Am I misreading this, or is Pat Bauer promising that he will fight for a tax increase?
If the (Barack) Obama administration had not provided this assist, I wonder whether today's announcement would be quite as rosy," House Speaker Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, said in a statement.
He pointed to the state's 10.7 percent unemployment rate and other economic issues as signs that the current fiscal year could be even more difficult.
"Any of these factors could throw our state's budget out of whack and add to the devastation currently facing so many Hoosier families," Bauer said. "Put them all together and the current budget could have an enormous hole blown into it that no amount of spending restraint and fiscal discipline could save. And remember there won't be any federal stimulus around in two years to help out."
Bauer is right that, without the federal stimulus, the state would have had a much tougher time ending up in the black and with a surplus. But I think he's wrong about hole being too big otherwise. The state would have just worked harder -- that is, cut more -- to balance the budget. So in that sense, the stimulus money was a hindrance rather than a help.
And notice Bauer is talking about the future, when he expects things to be just as bad, with no federal stimulus money to help us and fiscal discipline and spending restraint of no use. Sounds like he's ruled out everything but a state tax increase. Put that in your re-election speeches, Pat.