Indiana Republicans Accidentally Eliminate State’s Largest Agency

Jul 11 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

The Indiana Statehouse - Setting for a Sitcom

You have to love the hapless ineptitude of Republicans sometimes. If they weren’t so dangerous, if they weren’t trying to screw us, the public, at every turn by plundering our pocketbooks and stripping us of our supposedly-inalienable rights, it would almost be endearing. They’re like bumbling fascists in a Charlie Chaplin or a Marx Brothers movie.  But while they are bumbling fascists, this is not a movie. And if it were a movie, it would be horrifying, not entertaining.

In Indiana, Governor Mitch Daniels has decided not to run for president, but he’s keeping busy even so, most recently cleaning up after his over-enthusiastic Teahadist legislators (not that he is not responsible for some truly bumbling moves all on his own). It seems in their zeal to destroy, they accidentally axed the Family and Social Services Administration, which manages Medicaid, psychiatric hospitals, food stamps, First Steps, and other programs.

According to,

FSSA is a health care and social service funding agency. Ninety-four percent (94%) of the agency’s total budget is paid to thousands of service providers ranging from major medical centers to a physical therapist working with a child or adult with a developmental disability. The five care divisions in FSSA administer services to over one million Hoosiers.

Yes, the FSSA was eliminated by legislators on June 30th in a bill that became law in July. Last Thursday, some of the governor’s staffers (not the legislators, mind you) realized what had been done and brought the news to Daniels’s attention. His response was a hurried executive order, resuscitating the victim.

Give Jane Jankowski credit. As spokesperson for the governor, she tried to put a good face on it. She pointed out that the agency had been run by executive orders for decades before the agency became law. Yes, perhaps, but previous legislatures were not bumbling enough as this current crop of Republicans and Teahadists  to accidentally eliminate an entire agency.

The law, meanwhile, will have to be fixed. Until it can be, Daniels will keep his pen of state  handy, unless the Republicans forgot to fund the office supply closet.

I can’t speak for other states, but my own seems to be run not only by criminals but by imbeciles. Bad enough the agency was forced to trim staff, cut its budget and reduce services earlier this year, bad enough that Mitch Daniels tried to privatize FSSA – a scheme that would have enriched interested corporations at the expense of the public and the needy (and costing taxpayers $1.37-billion in the process), little publicized in Indiana for obvious reasons – but to accidentally eliminate it through an act you’d expect to see on The Office?

Maybe they decided since they couldn’t sell the FSSA to the highest bidder like they did Indiana’s Interstate (in 2006 for $3.8 billion to an Australian/Spanish  team) in a move that would have inspired admiration from President Ulysses S. Grant, they thought, “if we can’t have it, neither can you!” But I’m not sure that kind of corruption-inspired pique is any more endearing a quality than lazy incompetence.

Other gaffes include the time that a bill that was supposed to fix wage rates for public construction projects deleted, reports the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, “the minimum threshold for a six-month period, which could cost taxpayers more on small projects.”

And here I thought we were all broke and trying to save money.

But that was not all; the paper reports that “numerous other major education initiatives had errors that had to be fixed in the budget bill before lawmakers left town.”

And look at some of the willful blunders these lack-wits have made: passing an unconstitutional law for a school voucher program and the witless attempt to de-fund Planned Parenthood, which is sure to cost Indiana taxpayers even more coin, or an abortion and immigration bill, also challenged in the courts.

It’s almost as if a high school class was given an assignment to pretend they were state legislatures and somebody forgot to tell them it wasn’t for real.

House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis), downplayed the problems: “We have had some clerical errors that seem to be more than I can recall in the past.”

We are supposed to be reassured to know that leadership in the House and Senate is “addressing the issue” with the Legislative Services Agency, a nonpartisan agency responsible for fiscal and legal reviews of legislation.

But honestly, it’s unlikely the problems will go away until the legislators do. The utterly clueless Sharron Angle/Christine O’Donnell thing seems to be a lot more widespread than we’d been led to believe. Republicans like Bosma blame the Democrats for holding up legislation during their walk-out. Apparently being in a hurry means you don’t have to be careful? Does he mean if the Democrats had been there the collective Republican IQ would have soared?

But our local Democrat, Win Moses (D-Fort Wayne), pointed out that Republican zeal is to blame, saying they were trying to do too much in too short a time. “These are entirely Republican flubs. They just didn’t do a thorough enough job. They were in charge.”

No doubt. And it is the Republicans, after all, who are making such a fuss about problems being the responsibility of those in charge – as long as the guilty are Democrats. Republican legislating is becoming as sacrosanct as the Bible they all worship; God guides their hand and God can’t make a mistake.

All across the country these supposed fiscal conservatives are wasting taxpayer money on a ridiculous social agenda that does nothing to address the nation’s real problems while using “privatization” as a cover for further enriching themselves and their rich supporters and impoverishing their constituents. Incompetence just adds insult to injury. Is it too much to ask that they at least be competent criminals?


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