Pharos-Tribune

State News

December 6, 2012

Head of state budget-writing committee is healer by trade

INDIANAPOLIS — Not long after accepting the assignment as the Indiana House’s chief budget writer, Republican state Rep. Tim Brown invited his Democratic colleagues on the state budget committee to join him for lunch.

It may seem like a minor gesture, but given how contentious the last two years in the Indiana Legislature has been — with repeated walk-outs by the Democratic minority and angry responses from the Republican majority — it was seen as signal from a man who makes his living trying to mend people.

Brown, 56, is the lone physician in the Indiana General Assembly. In his 18 years in the Legislature, the Crawfordsville emergency-room doctor has never had a direct role in crafting the state’s two-year fiscal plan that now amounts to about $28 billion in spending.

But he was picked for the job, said his Republican colleague and friend, state Rep. Eric Turner, because he’s “smart,” “very grounded” and “has a peacemaker personality.”  

He’ll need those attributes as he takes on one of the toughest jobs in the Statehouse. As chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Brown is one of the key gatekeepers to how taxpayer dollars are spent.

It’s his committee that initiates the legislative budget-writing process and considers all bills with a significant fiscal impact. In that role, he also chairs the State Budget Committee, which includes Republicans and Democrats from both legislative chambers and is responsible for crafting a single, comprehensive budget recommendation to the governor.

“It’s an all-consuming job,” said Turner, who sits on the committee. “You have so many people — agency heads, House members, state senators, special interest groups — who have a piece of the budget now and they want more.”

Already, Brown’s colleagues have joked that he may soon be known as “Dr. No.”

After suffering through some lean years that triggered cuts to education and other state spending, the revenue side of the budget has bounced back. The state now has $2 billion in surplus — and legislators and the newly elected governor, Mike Pence, have a wealth of ideas on how to spend it.

“He’s going to have to say ‘no’ more times than yes,” said Turner.

Brown never sat on Ways and Means until his appointment by GOP House Speaker Brian Bosma. But he’s been chairman of the House Public Health Committee, and in that role carried some big health-related bills.

One was legislation that created the Healthy Indiana Plan, an insurance plan that uses Medicaid funds to provide coverage to the working poor.  

Another was Indiana’s smoking-ban bill, which finally passed last year after a frustrating eight-year effort. One of Brown’s co-sponsors was state Rep. Charlie Brown, a liberal Democrat from Gary who holds polar opposite views from the conservative Dr. Brown on most issues.

The two have become friends. “We both believe that we want the health of Indiana to be better,” said the Republican Brown. “His path may be different but our goal is the same.”

Health care costs will play a significant role in the budget-making process. Legislators will have to make some budget decisions related to expanding Medicaid, a federal program administered by the state. And questions are looming about the impact of the federal Affordable Care Act, and whether the state will decide to set up its own health care exchange or leave it to the federal government to step in.  

In appointing Brown, Bosma cited his experience in health care issues.

Brown sees a certain irony to that. He first ran for the state Legislature in 1994, prompted by his fears of a sweeping, federal health care proposal put forth by then-first lady Hilary Clinton.  

Brown didn’t see much good in government-run health care back then. Before getting involved in state politics, he represented the Indiana State Medical Association on advisory committees on Medicaid and Medicare. It’s in those experiences, he said, where he saw how too much government regulation can lead to the “loss of common sense.”

In his new role, Brown said he hopes to bring “some freshness and the ability to listen.” Those are attributes that are even more important now, he said, given that his party controls both chambers with a supermajority — giving Republicans enough votes that they don’t need a single Democrat to show up for them to pass a budget bill.

“I don’t have a gnawing-in-my-gut feeling that my way is the way things have to be,” Brown said. “I’m not dogmatic that way.”

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
State News
  • Settlement erases debt for 261 Indiana military members INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Attorney General Greg Zoeller says a new settlement will erase $1.5 million of bad debt for 261 military members from Indiana. Zoeller and attorneys general from 12 other states filed suit against the lender Rome Finance. They acc

    July 30, 2014

  • Frankfort teen dies after rescue from Indiana city pool FRANKFORT (AP) — Authorities say a 15-year-old boy pulled from a central Indiana city pool has died. Frankfort Mayor Chris McBarnes says Adrian Alanis died in an Indianapolis hospital on Tuesday, the day after he was rescued from the deep end of the

    July 30, 2014

  • Clark County sheriff charged in prostitution probe NEW ALBANY (AP) — A southern Indiana sheriff who authorities say gave a prostitute a deputy's badge and uniform so she could get hotel discounts, then paid her for a sex act, has been charged with lying to FBI agents investigating the case. A federal

    July 29, 2014

  • Arrest made in slaying of woman found in field GREENFIELD (AP) — An Indianapolis woman has been charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a woman found dead last week along a central Indiana road. Twenty-seven-year-old Amanda Gonzalez was formally charged Monday with murder and assisting a cri

    July 29, 2014

  • Madison County voting records sought in US probe ANDERSON (AP) — A federal grand jury has subpoenaed Madison County voting records after absentee ballots cast in Anderson's 4th Ward determined the winners of several races. The subpoena issued by federal prosecutors seeks several records from the Ma

    July 29, 2014

  • Indiana U. commemorating WWI centennial in 2014-15 INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana University plans to spend the upcoming academic year exploring the lingering impact of World War I. "The Great War" began 100 years ago. Former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar and former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton are joining a round-

    July 29, 2014

  • Coroner rules Lafayette toddler's death a homicide LAFAYETTE (AP) — A coroner has ruled as a homicide last week's death of a 14-month-old Lafayette girl who succumbed to a traumatic head injury. The Marion County Coroner's office reported Monday that the cause of Skylar Foster's death was blunt force

    July 29, 2014

  • Higher ed chief rolls out class load campaign INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana's higher education commissioner wants college students to get the message that they should take at least 15 credit hours each semester if they expect to graduate on time. Commissioner Teresa Lubbers on Monday kicked off a

    July 29, 2014

  • 65,000 chickens die in rural Indiana fire WARSAW (AP) — Thousands of chickens have been killed in a fire on a northern Indiana farm. Approximately 65,000 chickens died in a fire that broke out at Egg Innovations early Monday morning. The Atwood Fire Department responded to the Warsaw busines

    July 28, 2014

  • Ebola American Doctor [Duplicate] [Duplicate] Mother: Doctor with Ebola sought to be missionary INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indianapolis woman whose son contracted Ebola while working in Liberia says family members are praying for his recovery. Dr. Kent Brantly is the medical director for the Ebola care center of the aid group Samaritan's Purse in t

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should grocery and convenience stores be allowed to sell cold beer?

Yes
No
Unsure
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.