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Indiana Senate Panel Tweaks Refund Program

An Indiana state Senate committee has approved a measure that would change the budget parameters under which taxpayers could receive an automatic refund.Under current law, automatic refunds are generated if state reserves exceed ten percent of appropriations.Senate Bill 143 would exempt certain funds from the formula.Also, any excess reserves of under $100 million would automatically be used to pay down the state’s pension fund deficit. Anything over $100 million would be split between pensions and taxpayer refunds.Democrat John Broden offered an amendment that would abandon the refund program and provide a $300 million appropriation to K through 12 education."It recognizes that there are still significant hurdles to our national and state economy out there, whether it’s the European debt crisis, or other potential hazards looming. I still think we need to be cautious about our reserves and about our funds," he said.Broden’s amendment was defeated. Republicans on the committee say they’ll consider a K-12 appropriation introduced in the House.

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." Email Rick at rhowlett@lpm.org.