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Indiana budget constraints put new focus on state cuts through return of unspent money

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INDIANAPOLIS — The use of reversions by Indiana's governors to cut the state budget is gaining new attention from lawmakers.

Members of the State Budget Committee peppered Gov. Mike Pence's budget director with questions about the budget-slicing tactic last week. The administration also dealt with an adoption lawsuit centered on claims that the state wrongly used reversions to sock away money that should have gone to adoptive families.

Reversions are typically a small amount of money returned to the government by agencies at the end of each budget year. But Indiana governors have increasingly used them as budget-cutting tools.

Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute President John Ketzenberger says the tactic it is a "two-way street" for lawmakers and governors. It can marginalize lawmakers, but also leave tough choices to the governor.

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