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The Scoop

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Daniels: Indiana must cut K-12 funding

Gov. Mitch Daniels discussed the updated revenue forecast presented Tuesday to the State Budget Committee. The forecast is for the remainder of the current fiscal year and fiscal year 2011.

Here is the verbatim text of the governor’s opening comments at today’s news conference:

“For over a year, I’ve cautioned that the revenue forecast used by the legislature seemed too rosy and out of touch with the severity of the national recession. Today the forecasters faced the reality we’ve been dealing with every day.

If we’d done nothing since the budget passed in June, the state’s reserves would have been gone next summer. Of course, we have acted, but if we do nothing further, we’ll run through every penny of our reserves and still have $300 million in bills we can’t pay by the end of this budget in 2011. The debate over the reserves is over, we are using them. The only question is whether we’ll use every penny of them or find a way to have something left. And that’s if this forecast finally is correct where the others were so incredibly wrong.

We have already cut state agencies by 20 percent and higher education by 6 percent. We are now forced to our last resort. K-12 spending is half the entire state budget, and it will have to contribute something to keeping us in the black.

I have asked the State Board of Education to meet quickly and recommend how much reduction can be absorbed without reducing the number of classroom teachers. I have also asked their guidance on steps superintendents, school boards, and teachers themselves can take to prevent layoffs. Their recommendations are due by Friday.

Our situation in Indiana remains far more manageable than most states. Thirty-nine of them have already cut education and many are preparing to do so again. We still have reserves to draw on, while many of theirs are long gone. If all parties will accept a part in helping out, we’ll get through whatever is left of this recession and come out the other side sooner and stronger than most.”

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