Scott Tibbs
Printed in the Herald-Times, 9-07-2001

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Not encouraged by responses to Build Indiana violations

To the editor:

Hoosiers should be very concerned with recent goings-on in Indianapolis. The Indianapolis Star has exposed multiple violations of law in distributions of the Build Indiana Fund, and the responses of legislators caught with their hands in the cookie jar have not been encouraging.

House Floor Leader Mark Kruzan has offered a weak argument that the state budget overrides the law governing the BIF. However, experts at the non-partisan Hudson Institute have said that if state government wants to use a budget that expires after two years to override existing law they are on shaky ground. An attorney from the Indiana Civil liberties Union responded to statements like Kruzan's by saying, "the legislature wants to start spending money without laws". If the budget overrides the law governing the BIF, why did the legislature try to change the law two years ago?

At least Kruzan is trying to justify the way legislators spent BIF money. State Senator Vi Simpson said that the money should be distributed and "let's deal with all the legal issues later." It's disturbing that an influential member of the Indiana Senate would display such disregard for the rule of law. In addition, State Representative Peggy Welch admitted in the June 25 Herald-Times that she didn't even know what the law governing BIF expenditures was. Monroe County is not being represented well in Indianapolis on this matter.

It's not surprising that legislators don't want restrictions on the BIF, since it is a pork-barrel program that helps them get re-elected.