Just days into the job as Gov. Eric Holcomb’s newly appointed director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Cris Johnston looked at the fiscal state of the state and made a wise call. Johnston is new to this job but not new to state finance. He has held several key positions in state government and worked on public finance matters in private practice for many years.

When he saw that state revenue collections for this biennium have come in stronger than projected (1.3% or $181 million above the budgeted forecast), he knew that the money would only be adding to an already very healthy reserve fund.

The OMB director’s approach is to use the funds to make one-time cash payments on capital projects that have been approved by the General Assembly but via long-term debt. Using some $300 million in reserves to pay for the numerous projects upfront will save tens of millions of taxpayer dollars over time. Those proposed projects include:

  • $78 million for traffic flow on U.S. 31 so the Indiana Department of Transportation can complete this transformational project
  • $50 million for the swine barn at the Indiana State Fairgrounds
  • $73 million for the Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine teaching hospital
  • $60 million for the Ball State University STEM and Health Professions facilities
  • $30 million for the Ivy Tech Columbus main building replacement

The financing change does have to be approved by legislators, but it is a prudent move and will likely be viewed as such by the budget-makers.

Resource: Bill Waltz at (317) 264-6887 or email: [email protected]