State elected officials attended the second Clay County Crackerbarrel session Saturday, giving area citizens the opportunity to voice their concerns.
The $850 million budget deficit in Indiana was the main concern. It has had negative impacts on such issues as tax rates, health care, job security and new job opportunities, quality education and lack of accountability in state government.
Rep. Andy Thomas recently surveyed his constituents with 1,400 people responding.
"Nearly two-thirds of the respondents indicated that eliminating government inefficiency and mismanagement is the best way to control state spending. House Republicans propose the creation of a Hoosier Grace Commission, a volunteer program at no cost to taxpayers, to provide a fundamental review of state programs and spending priorities to eliminate waste," he said.
Rep. Brooks LaPlante said the time has come for a new Indiana, focused on creating high skill, high wage jobs for Hoosier families. He said we must rebuild Indiana with a strong and creative educational system, a balanced budget and efficient delivery of government services. The House of Representatives passed the House Democrat biennial budget last week 51-49. LaPlante said the proposed budget as it now stands doesn't address the structural inadequacies of our state government.
"Common sentiments throughout the state legislature condemn levying future tobacco settlement monies to fund current operating costs. The Governor's recommendation appropriates the money without specifying an allocation to the general fund for future government spending," he said.
Sen. John Waterman said, "The budget is D.O.A. (dead on arrival). And if it weren't for gaming, we'd have been broke a long time ago."
Dockside gambling is now legal for Indiana's riverboat casinos but there will be more requests for the General Assembly to legalize pull tabs (similar to slot machines).
According to Thomas's survey, 56.2 percent favor the idea of a land-based casino for French Lick/West Baden to stimulate the economy, but oppose pull tabs and building permanent barges attached to riverboats to increase the size of the casinos.