Brinegar Speaks on Indiana Budget, Speedway Upgrades

Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar sat down with Inside INdiana Business recently to discuss the most pressing topics in the state legislature as the end of session nears. See the video on IIB:

A bill that would create a tax district to fund upgrades at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway continues to make its way through the legislature. Some lawmakers want to add guarantees that would protect state funds if the facility would be sold. In this week's INside the Statehouse segment, Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar says he's "cautiously optimistic" the legislation will pass.

Our partners at Network Indiana/WIBC report a proposed amendment to the bill calls for the speedway to receive a portion of the money the horse racing industry now receives as a loan, rather than forming a tax district. The chance would also give an additional $5 million to the Indiana Economic Development Corp. for other motorsports industry efforts.

Brinegar says the Indiana House and Senate are not too far apart on a two-year state budget. He believes the final product will look closest to the Senate's proposal, which passed through committee last week. That plan includes a smaller individual income tax cut than the 10 percent proposed by Governor Mike Pence and an increase in K-12 funding by more than $330 million. Pence has called the proposal "a good start."

Differences also remain on education issues. The Senate has passed a bill that would halt the implementation of Common Core standards. House Education Committee Chairman Bob Behning (R-91) has refused to hear the bill because he believes the standards should move forward.

Spend, Spend and More Spend

Few will argue with the idea that federal government spending is out of control. The Heritage Foundation's Federal Spending by the Numbers is a comprehensive look at the situation. We'll share a few of the many bullet points that just make me (and I'm sure many of you) wonder why our political leaders can't realize that the current course is a disastrous one.

  • Over the past 20 years, federal spending grew 71 percent faster than inflation.
  • In 1962, defense spending was nearly half the total federal budget (49 percent); Social Security and other mandatory programs were less than one-third of the budget (31 percent). Two major entitlement programs, Medicaid and Medicare, were signed into law by President Johnson in 1965.
  • In 2012 entitlements were nearly 62 percent of total spending, while defense dropped to less than one-fifth (18.7 percent) of the budget.
  • Federal spending per household reached $29,691 in 2012, a 29 percent increase (adjusted for inflation) from $23,010 in 2002. The government collected $20,293 per household in taxes in 2012.
  • The excess of spending over taxes produced a budget deficit of $9,398 per household in 2012.
  • For every $6.80 the federal government collected in taxes in 2012, it spent $10. Consequently, $3.20 out of every $10 spent was borrowed.
  • Major entitlements (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program, Obamacare) will increase from 44 percent of federal spending in 2012 to 57 percent in 2022.
  • In 1993, Social Security surpassed national defense as the largest federal spending category, and remains first today.
  • Federal energy spending has increased steadily over the past decade with the government increasingly subsidizing activities like energy efficiency, energy supply, and technology commercialization. An unprecedented $42 billion was spent in 2009 as part of the stimulus, a nine-fold increase over the 2008 spending level.
  • Interest on the debt is the fifth largest federal spending category, even at today’s low interest rates.
  • All entitlements (excluding net interest) total nearly 62 percent of all federal spending today.
  • Spending on the largest, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, will leap from 10.4 percent of GDP in 2012 to 18.2 percent by 2048.
  • The big three entitlements alone will absorb all tax revenues by 2048. Other spending, such as national defense or interest on the debt would have to be financed completely on borrowed money.
  • Medicare is the fastest-growing major entitlement, growing 68 percent since 2002. Medicaid grew 38 percent and Social Security 37 percent.

Elfcu Makes Financial Wellness a Priority for Customers

Eli Lilly Federal Credit Union, now known as Elfcu, has served Lilly's employees and their families for over 80 years. In 2008, the credit union began to add membership from Select Employer Groups as it became more independent from Lilly itself. Now, employees from selected companies are eligible for Elfcu membership as a no cost voluntary benefit.

Aside from its array of services, Elfcu has separated itself as a leader in financial wellness.

"We are a financial wellness provider that happens to be a credit union," explains communications and education manager Michelle Payne. "We strive to understand not just what our customers want but to understand what their goals are so we can help them make the right financial choices. We're not just about our products and transactions here, but about our members' overall financial success."

As an example, Elfcu recently launched a partnership with financial guru "Pete The Planner" (Peter Dunn) with its "Fastest Way to $5K" 12-week educational program. Dunn recommends ways consumers can acquire the most savings, and Elfcu offers the tools and programs to help them achieve those goals.

 When asked how economic conditions have impacted Elfcu's operations, business development manager Todd Shickel contends credit unions were dealt a softer blow than some.

"The credit unions have always been a safe haven for a member's banking services, so we didn't feel the impact of the financial tsunami like many financial institutions did," he relays. "Some financial institutions were impacted, but we have very responsible lending programs designed to be a better fit for the consumer — not what will generate the most revenue for the credit union."

He adds that the biggest change he's seen recently is in the realm of health savings — a change that emphasizes why financial wellness is so important.

"Employers have started to go to the high deductible, consumer-driven health plans," Shickel says. "They have a tool that goes with them called a health savings account — and we have a very robust health savings account platform that helps differentiate us in the marketplace. It gives the members a portal and tools to become better health care consumers… In the newer high deductible plans, it's up to the consumer to find the best services, and they have a stake in those services."

Elfcu, which boasts a global membership base, also works to parlay technology to give its clients the best possible service.

"Our access options really do exceed a lot of our larger banking competitors," Payne notes. "We launched mobile banking (elfcuMOBILE) last summer, which features a smartphone app and text banking for those without a smartphone. One fantastic feature is the remote deposit capture, so you can snap a photo of your check and upload it for a deposit. We also have a dynamic eBranch Internet banking system that we're continually updating."

She adds that beyond those electronic options, Elfcu offers more than 5,000 shared branches nationwide and a surcharge-free network of over 60,000 ATMs.

See Elfcu's entire video series on its YouTube page, and be sure to explore its newly designed web site at elfcu.org, including its new Life Lessons financial wellness blog.

Check Out the Chamber’s Issue Pages

Do you have a topic you're passionate about, and would like to know what the Indiana Chamber is working on in that area? We've developed some web pages highlighting key issues that will show you what we're focused on and offer some background on our public policies. See the pages below, and more information will be added weekly to these as the session progresses.

http://www.indianachamber.com/education
http://www.indianachamber.com/tax
http://www.indianachamber.com/healthcare
http://www.indianachamber.com/econdev
http://www.indianachamber.com/labor
http://www.indianachamber.com/environment
http://www.indianachamber.com/localgov
http://www.indianachamber.com/federal

Our 2013 Top Legislative Priorities and Legislative Business Issues documents are also available to view.

Governor Gets Down to Business Quickly

While the Indiana General Assembly began its work on January 7, new Gov. Mike Pence had to wait a week for his January 14 inauguration. He quickly went to work, however, with significant positive actions on his first two days on the job.

A series of executive orders that Pence signed following his official ascension into office included a moratorium on new rules and regulations (with obvious emergency exceptions) that were not proposed before January 14, as well as a cost-benefit analysis of existing administrative rules. Priority will be given to review of those rules with the most negative effect on job creation and economic development.

Candidate Pence promised this action leading up to the election. While federal regulatory challenges are often at the forefront today, this step will help ensure that state government is not unnecessarily limiting job and economic growth.

On day two, the Pence team delivered a two-year, $29 billion spending plan to the State Budget Committee. The first six pages of this extensive document provide an overview of the key elements.

This is a very good starting point for legislators. It is a fiscally sound proposal, with a focus on meeting key state priorities and providing the 10% individual income tax relief (which also encompasses 90% of Hoosier businesses) that Pence proposed in his campaign. As we’ve indicated previously, lawmakers have questioned whether the income tax cut should take precedence over other budget desires. That will be worked out in the legislative process and could be determined by the updated revenue forecast that will be presented in early April.

A few highlights:

  • A 1% increase in each of the next two years for K-12 and higher education. The second year for K-12 would have that 1% be divided among the state’s highest performing schools. Combined, the education funding totals 65% of the budget.
  • While the administration did not include money to specifically expand the Medicaid program as outlined under federal health care reform, it does significantly increase funding for health insurance for the poor – from $1.65 billion this year to $2.1 billion in 2015.
  • The budget calls for a change in projected excess revenues. After 12.5% of annual spending is set aside in reserves, the remainder would be divided between the automatic income tax credits that were enacted during the Daniels administration and a new fund to help maintain roads, bridges and other infrastructure critical to economic growth.
  • Spending is kept in line in this proposal. A structural surplus is maintained and reserves are allocated effectively, with the infrastructure fund a good start to the larger question of financing future transportation needs. The Chamber will be working with the governor’s team and legislators to help ensure that as many pro-job, pro-economy priorities as possible are achieved in a responsible manner.

American Paychecks to Shrink, to Chagrin of Employers and Employees

Get ready for a heaping dose of bummersauce: They say the only certainties are death and taxes — but you can also count on your 2013 checks being smaller because of those taxes. CNN Money has the bad news:

Payroll taxes are key for financing Social Security, and the break of the past two years has forced the government to replenish the funds with borrowed money. The tax break was always meant to be temporary.

Workers earning the national average salary of $41,000 will receive $32 less on every biweekly paycheck. The higher the salary (up to $113,700), the bigger the bite, but business owners say their lower wage employees will feel it most.

Deborah Koenigsberger, who owns the Noir et Blanc fashion store in Manhattan, has yet to have the talk with her only part-time employee, a college student.

"It's going to hurt me to tell her this. She can't afford a decrease," Koenigsberger said. What unnerves her is the feeling that she's lost control as a business owner watching out for her employees.

Keval Mehta, CEO of In-R-Food, a smartphone app developer in Durham, N.C., worried the tax increase will threaten morale. "They don't get paid enough for what they do," Mehta said.

The 1-year-old company has yet to make a profit, having just launched software that scans grocery products and lists ingredients and nutritional values. His four employees could make upwards of $80,000 a year elsewhere, but three of them earn less than half that. They put in long hours, must work from laptops while on vacation, and no, there isn't a health insurance plan.

All that made it even more difficult to warn them during the holidays about the oncoming pay cut. Mehta promised them he'd make up the lost pay if the company's finances improve next year.

"Currently, they're working on passion. But that can only drive you so much," Mehta said. "I don't like that I don't have control over this. It wasn't a decision I made. But as a CEO, you take responsibility for everything. You're automatically at fault, because you're the captain of the ship."

Survey: Many Americans Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Most national news stories right now are focusing on the seeming ineptness of our Congress and Presidential administration to agree on a plan to avoid the so-called “Fiscal Cliff.” While an agreement has now been reached, none of the information surrounding how this deal came to be is positive.

Americans are mostly annoyed and aggravated, some downright outraged, about this. And we absolutely should be – we elect these people to act on our behalf, not like squabbling children (sorry, that’s offensive to all children).

But maybe we also need to point a finger in the mirror. At least, one in every two Americans should do that, as apparently we’re not much better off at handling our own finances than the federal government is at handling its finances.

A December survey from online lender NetCredit.com has discovered that almost half of Americans indicate that they are living paycheck to paycheck and 44% of Americans are just trying to stay current on their bills and avoid debt and bankruptcy.

Using 1,000 Americans in the poll, there were some demographics that stood out as the most likely to face this financial reality, including: 62% of Americans in their 30s; 54% among those Americans under age 60; 57% of families with children; 64% of families with five or more people in the household; and 53% in southern states, versus those in the northeastern U.S.

Also mirroring our political leaders, borrowing money seems to be the go-to answer in case of an emergency (car repairs, medical bill, high utility bill, etc.).

Twenty-three percent of these Americans would whip out a credit card; 16% would hit up their families and friends; 5% would head to the bank for a loan and 2% would use installment loans. Other possible solutions include using general savings or a separate rainy day fund, selling or pawning items or short-term cash advances.

But the poll’s press release also noted that a recent FDIC study found that nearly half of Americans can’t come up with $2,000 in 30 days if an emergency did arise and they used these options.

So what can be done to prevent this? The first advice I’ve seen from anyone who deals with money and finances is this: have an emergency fund. Start small; say $1,000 in a savings account (separate from the checking account). The ultimate goal is to have three to six months of living expenses in an emergency fund, which would cover a sudden loss of income and delay the added stress that would come with a job loss.

Slow and steady wins the race though; it’s not a quick thing to have six months of living expenses sitting in the bank. Create a budget and stick to it. Live within your means.

Now, would anyone like to share this with the federal government?

Chamber Statement on the Fiscal Cliff Deal

President Obama and a divided Congress have come to an agreement on the so-called fiscal cliff. Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar reacts:

"The Indiana Chamber applauds the President and Congress for their ability to compromise in the eleventh hour. However, the measures agreed to are inadequate, some potentially counter-productive, and fall far short of addressing the long-term fiscal challenges facing our federal government.

"Despite tax increases, long-term spending remains unsustainable and a threat to our economic and national security. We must rigorously reform entitlement and social welfare programs and look for real, lasting savings across all federal activities. We can no longer borrow and spend as if there were no consequences, because the day of reckoning fast approaches. We look forward to working with our congressional delegation in the weeks and months ahead to fashion workable and responsible reforms."

In early December, the Indiana Chamber released the results of a federal tax survey, done in in partnership with Congressman Todd Young (R-9th District), who is a new appointee to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee. The survey of Hoosier businesses revealed a willingness to share the tax burden, provided there is real and significant reduction in federal spending and substantive reform to simplify the tax code. The press release and charts detailing the results can be found online at www.indianachamber.com/federal.
 

Bottom Line: Not a Lot of Extra Money in State Budget Forecasts

The Indiana State Budget Committee listened to three separate forecasts recently regarding Medicaid, the economy and revenue; together these will set the stage for debates in the coming session over the next state biennium budget.

Medicaid Forecast
The day started with the Medicaid presentation by Michael A. Gargano, secretary of the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) and Robert M. Damler, an actuary with the firm of Milliman, Inc., a financial and health care consultant on contract to the FSSA. The duo outlined the various projections relative to Medicaid expenditure obligations anticipated over the next two years. While predicting Medicaid expenses is particularly difficult this year due to the unknowns of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the forecast nevertheless attempts to estimate the potential liabilities of the state by making a series of assumptions regarding: the implementation of programs, reimbursement amounts, the impact of new provisions, additional federal actions, long-term trends, and ultimately, the increase in Medicaid recipients and the state’s financial obligations.

Their forecast projects the general fund monies needed to provide Medicaid assistance will grow by 17.1% in fiscal year (FY) 2014 and 8.7% in FY2015. That translates to almost $450 million over the biennium. Fortunately, however, the appropriations for Medicaid have exceeded the actual expenditures in FY2012 and are expected to do so again in FY2013 (by $264 million and $234 million, respectively). The over appropriation in FY2013 will help offset the FY2014 increase some, but overall dollar obligations will nevertheless grow significantly. If you compare the appropriated amounts in the last budget with the projections of what will be needed for Medicaid in the next two years, you still end up with a difference of $428 million (The math: FY12 appropriation = $1716M, FY13 appropriation = $1882M, projected FY14 = $1929M, FY15 = projected $2097M; 1716 +1882= 3598; 1929 + 2097 = 4026; 4026-3598 = 428) Keep this additional $428 million dollars in mind when we consider the general fund revenue projections below.

Economic Forecast
This presentation was given by James Diffley, chief regional economist for IHS Global Insight. Diffley gave the big picture on the U.S. and Indiana economic outlooks. His overview considered the effects of global and domestic uncertainties on exports and business capital spending, housing and vehicle markets, consumer spending, employment and income levels, potential tax changes and the chance of recession if we go over the “fiscal cliff.” In short, IHS is predicting a continuation of modest/slow growth. Indiana is situated well, but remains vulnerable to all the outside factors.

Revenue Forecast
The main attraction of the day was the general fund revenue forecast for fiscal years 2013-2015. This forecast is based on the underlying economic projections of IHS Global Insight but gets down to the nitty-gritty of how much money the budget-makers will have to work with as they put together and debate the details of the next budget. These projections are arrived at by consensus of a bipartisan and non-partisan committee of fiscal analysts who look very closely at all state revenue sources. They meet regularly, apply sophisticated models, track a multitude of factors, receive counsel from numerous advisors, academics and other sources, and have in recent years proven very accurate.

The report took into account recent legislative changes and such things as how alterations to the gaming laws in surrounding states will likely lead to even further reduction in Indiana’s gaming revenues. The bottom line of the revenue forecast committee: Total general revenues are projected to increase by a very modest 2.2% for FY2014 and then another 2.9% in FY2015. In dollar terms, that is $14.65 billion in FY2014 and $15.08 billion in FY2015. The collections for FY2013 were $14.33 billion. The projections represent a slight increase of $320 million for the first year of the new budget and another $430 million in the second year – a mere $750 million over the biennium.

Now let’s go back to the additional $428 million needed simply to meet the projected increase in Medicaid: $750 million minus $428 million leaves only $322 million (a little over 2% of the annual budget) to pay for all other desired budget and fiscal priorities that have been put forth. These include restoring over $350 million in K-12 education cuts, an approximately $100 million pre-school program, several hundred million in stymied university capital projects, billions in long-term road maintenance and other infrastructure needs, as well as the incoming Governor’s proposal to cut individual income taxes by well over $500 million. Clearly, there’s not enough money to go around – let’s see what gets done!