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
  • Holiday World plans new winged roller coaster SANTA CLAUS (AP) — The Holiday World amusement park in southern Indiana says it's building a new roller coaster that will launch riders to 60 miles an hour in 3.5 seconds, with a 14-story loop among four inversions. Plans for the Thunderbird were ann

    July 25, 2014

  • Man dies after being hit by sheriff's prisoner van INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Police say a man has died after he was hit by a sheriff's department prisoner transport van on an Indianapolis street. City police spokesman Officer Christopher Wilburn says witnesses told investigators that the man was lying on t

    July 25, 2014

  • Murder, rape charges filed in SW Indiana attack BLOOMFIELD (AP) — Prosecutors have charged a 35-year-old man with fatally shooting a man outside his rural southwestern Indiana home and then raping a woman inside the home. Greene County prosecutors filed murder, rape and other charges Thursday agai

    July 25, 2014

  • Teen Pilot-Crash [Duplicate] [Duplicate] Family: Indiana teen pilot who crashed in ocean knew risks PLAINFIELD (AP) — Haris Suleman knew that flying around the world carried risks. But like adventurers before him, the 17-year-old pilot from Indiana also believed dreams aren't achieved without taking chances. "Why does any explorer undertake the nec

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Indy. Man who avoided prison time for rape resentenced INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indianapolis man who was placed on home detention after being convicted of drugging and raping his then-wife is going to prison for violating his probation. The ex-wife of 52-year-old David Wise said she felt "sucker punched" b

    July 24, 2014

  • Judge rules Indiana hog farms protected by law WINCHESTER (AP) — A judge has ruled state law protects the operator of large hog farms from lawsuits filed by residents of an eastern Indiana county. The lawsuits against North Carolina-based Maxwell Farms accused it of allowing hog waste to accumula

    July 24, 2014

  • Ex-Indy officer appeals convictions in fatal crash INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A former Indianapolis police officer is appealing his convictions for killing one motorcyclist and seriously injuring two others while driving drunk in his police cruiser. A brief filed by public defenders Wednesday claims the jud

    July 24, 2014

  • Ex-Indiana officer pleads guilty in $150K theft FRANKFORT (AP) — A former central Indiana police officer has pleaded guilty to charges that he stole nearly $150,000 from a company for which he transported cash. Former Frankfort police Lt. Randy Emery avoided jail time as a judge sentenced him to t

    July 24, 2014

  • Court rules prison agency mistreated former Pendleton counselor INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that Indiana's prison agency mistreated a female employee when it shrugged off her complaints about workers having sex on her desk and later fired her for having an affair with an official. The ap

    July 23, 2014

  • Complaint ends teacher prayer in western Indiana school district TERRE HAUTE (AP) — A western Indiana school district is telling teachers and other employees they can't lead prayers during school-sponsored event. The decision by the Vigo County School Corp. in Terre Haute follows a complaint made to the Freedom fr

    July 23, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

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

The Pence administration continues to cut Indiana agency budgets despite a state surplus of $2 billion. Is this wise management of state funds?

Yes
No
Not sure
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase
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.