“Show me your checkbook and I'll show you your values.” A common saying used to understand spending decisions of individuals and organizations.
Let's apply that to our beloved state of Indiana. The last couple of months, the State has touted a budget multi-million dollar surplus. The State has also taken pride in issuing Hoosiers temporary relief checks of $125 and then $200. These automatic refunds are triggered by excess reserves. In layman's terms, the State took in more revenue than expected and did not put that money back into communities. Instead, a special session was called, which cost taxpayers over $240,000, where women lost their right to a legal and safe abortion and almost all democratic recommendations for funding communities were shut down.
As a person of Faith, I believe we have a responsibility to advocate on behalf of others, and that includes how we invest tax payer dollars. We should not weaponize the Bible to create bad, harmful policies. We should not allow anyone to create legislation based on their misinterpretation of scripture. That's actually spiritual and political malpractice. It’s time out for this!
What happened during the special session was the worst form of government overreach in recent memory – and they used our tax dollars to fulfill that extremist agenda.
Also, while many of us were recovering from the economic effects of COVID, agencies were encouraged by the State's financial officers and legislators to operate with less money and to be efficient. The result of that is a continued lack of investment in Hoosier communities by the State’s supermajority.
According to Indiana's report card on CNBC, Indiana was given an F rating in quality of life, a D- rating in its workforce, and a C- rating for its education system. As such, it's not like there is a lack of investment opportunities to influence the lives of Hoosiers, just a lack of action and intention that should match up with Hoosier values!
As our state legislators prepare to enter the next budget session, we need to press them, especially those in the super majority, to make funding decisions that actually better the lives of our communities. With special attention to communities that are historically underserved and under-represented; and even those in rural communities who all suffer from their basic human needs not being met.
We also need to hold agencies receiving state funding accountable to affect real change in our communities! We need an Auditor of the State, who will work with agencies for real transparency and controls, including data collection and metrics tracking to determine and articulate best use and effectiveness of funds! In addition to the day to day accounting functions of this office, the Auditor of the State, i.e. the State's Chief Financial and Accounting Officer, has the opportunity to tell the story of the State's funding decisions.
The real story of equity, impact, inclusion, fairness, trust…or lack thereof…
Here is the key point: There comes a time where sitting on too much of a surplus becomes fiscally irresponsible and detrimental to communities.
Are we at that moment? Many Hoosiers believe the answer is YES.
Trust me, if we continue to sit on the sidelines, not voting, not supporting candidates, not engaging in the political process, we run the risk of legislators with extremist views continuing their efforts to strip Hoosiers of basic rights, especially women, people of color and our LGBTQ friends.
Now we need someone committed to being the voice of consciousness, fiscally and spiritually! Someone not afraid to stand up to the establishment. Someone with a track record of serving and advocating on behalf of communities!
Because remember: it's disrespectful to hold a position of power and not use it to affect change in our communities!
Live outside the box. Live in purpose. Live on purpose.
Peace. Blessings. Love.