Pence: Sequester Not Best Option, But Spending Needs to Be Reined In
Governor downplays impact on state from expected federal cuts
Gov. Mike Pence (WIBC.com file photo: Eric Berman)
Governor Pence says he's confident Indiana can withstand any blowback from the looming federal budget sequester.
The White House calculates Indiana will lose $42 million in federal funds under sequestration, more than half of it from education. Pence was in Washington earlier this week for the National Governors Association conference, and says he urged both President Obama and his former congressional colleagues to find a less arbitrary way to make cuts.
But Pence notes he voted as a congressman for the law putting the sequester in play, to ensure that Washington really did begin to rein in spending rather than simply raising the debt limit over and over.
Legislators have voiced concern about direct and indirect effects from the sequester -- not only will the state lose money, but economists fear an economic slowdown. Pence maintains Indiana's economy and state reserves are strong enough that there should be enough money for state priorities. He notes his proposed budget called for $100 million more for schools than what the government is threatening to take away. House Republicans' budget adds even more.
And Indiana's fiscal year doesn't start till July -- Pence says that gives Washington time to reach a deal even if the sequester hits Friday as scheduled.
The Department of Workforce Development has already announced it will suspend federal unemployment benefits for Hoosiers who have been out of work longer than 26 weeks until it receives guidance from the federal government.