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Senate GOP: We're ready to balance budget, consider Daniels' reforms

STATEHOUSE (Jan. 11, 2011) - Indiana Senate Republicans say their caucus stands ready to work with Gov. Mitch Daniels and other lawmakers to balance the state's two-year state budget and to consider reforms outlined in Tuesday's State of the State Address.

"We are committed to balancing the state budget without raising taxes on hardworking Hoosiers," President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) said in a written response. "With the national recession reducing state revenues to 2005 levels, state government must continue to set and live within tight spending limits, just as Indiana families, farmers and employers are doing every day. Our budget goals are to prioritize education and essential services like public safety, while protecting taxpayers from recovery-killing tax hikes."

"I think this legislative session could be one of the most important for Indiana education since Gov. Robert Orr introduced the A-plus program," State Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn) said. "I'm eager to see the governor's ideas go through our legislative process."

Daniels' seventh State of the State called on lawmakers to pass legislation improving Indiana schools, reforming local government and updating the state's criminal justice system.

State Sen. Tom Wyss (R-Fort Wayne) said most Senate Republicans are philosophically supportive of Daniels' call to identify and reward successful teachers and principals; instill accountability and provide assistance for turning around poor performing schools; and allow more education options for families trapped by failing schools. "Determining exactly how Indiana gets there will require much homework by lawmakers and much input from the public," he added. 

State Sen. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) said other Senate GOP objectives for the 2011 legislation session include fostering private-sector job growth, cutting government red tape and promoting fair redistricting.