FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - The race for the Statehouse is heating up as the candidates for Indiana Senate District 16 weigh in on the state's $2B budget surplus.
Incumbent Republican State Senator, President Pro Tem David Long, says the surplus is the result of strict fiscal discipline and should remain a safety net in case the economy takes a turn for the worse.
If that happens, Long says the surplus cash would be used to fund education, services for the poor, and other mandatory state expenditures.
"If the money is not there, and times turn south, then our options are either to slash services and spending or to raise taxes - neither of which I support, and I don't think many other Hoosiers support that either," says Long.
Long's Democratic opponent, naval veteran Tom Keen, says he would like to see the money invested in local infrastructure over the course of several years.
Keen says improving roads, bridges, and sewer systems creates jobs and attracts businesses to the area. By offering cities and towns low-interest loans, Keen says Hoosiers would benefit from future dividends and get more for their money right now.
"This is the best time to use it, when contractors are hungry for work," Keen says. "They're looking for work today and we can get a 10 to 20% discount as they reduce their margins. We get more bang for our buck. It's just common sense."
Long points out that counties already receive funding dedicated to infrastructure improvement. Keen, however, says that there is such a long list of needed improvements that sitting on a massive surplus now could mean more expensive repairs in the future.
Voters will let their opinions on the surplus be heard when they head to the polls in November.
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