Exactly what the state's fiscal picture looks like won't be known for about another week, when state Auditor Tim Berry releases the final financial report.
The surplus comes in part from money reverted back from state agencies that were instructed by the governor to return a certain percentage of their budget back to the state's coffers to help offset what has been declining revenues due to the recession.
Indiana law gives Daniels the power to make those cuts, and he's exercised that power for several years. He declined to say how much of the surplus comes from cuts to state agencies.
State budget officials said most agencies gave back about 3 percent of what had initially been approved by the legislature. In past years, the reversions have been much bigger.
Daniels' announcement triggered sneering comments from the Democratic House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer of South Bend. "Congratulations to Gov. Daniels for hitting his magical $2 billion in surplus and giving $100 tax credits to Hoosiers," Bauer said in a press release. "Nevertheless, one has to ask, ‘What were the human costs paid in order to achieve this goal?’”
Bauer zeroed in on cuts made in the past, including those made to K-12 education and the state's Department of Child Services. And he was critical of mistakes made by state budget officials who last year admitted they'd lost track of about $320 million in corporate income tax revenue and earlier this year revealed they'd failed to distribute $206 million in local income tax revenues to counties.
"Taxpayer refunds are good," Bauer said. "We proposed them long ago. However, $100 per taxpayer is less than $2 per week.
“It buys only about a half gallon of gasoline each week. The question has to be asked, "How much more are you paying for other necessities?"