Indiana must exploit fiscal advantages
Monday, October 22, 2012 11:00 AM
A state-by-state analysis released by the nonpartisan advocacy group State Budget Solutions found that Indiana's debt per person is about $5,700.
That's less than half the national average of $13,000 per capita for state governments, the Indianapolis Star recently reported.
Some believe that is good news and speaks well to the fiscal conservatism practiced by our elected leaders. Others argue that conservative approach has resulted in some Hoosiers not receiving the support they need.
Among the 50 states, only Nebraska ($4,200) and Tennessee ($5,300) have lower per capita debt, the Star wrote in its report.
Indiana is second in the nation, behind only Nebraska, in average debt for each private sector worker. And, at less than 15 percent, we're third in the nation, behind Nebraska and Tennessee again, in state debt as a percentage of gross state product.
But, this news prompts a few questions.
Indiana now has much more fiscal flexibility than most other states. How can we leverage that flexibility for the betterment of all Hoosiers?
Indiana should have the means to address unmet needs, most notably education. We're long overdue in providing early childhood education, and we know most school districts are struggling to stay within their shrinking budgets.
That nation is slowly emerging from a deep national recession. Indiana is doing so with relatively low debt.
We've got to learn to use that low debt to our advantage.