Annual Indiana budget hearings to begin Wednesday

Members of the Indiana State Budget Committee expect to grill representatives of state agencies and public universities during a series of hearings that begin next week.

The hearings will lay the groundwork for the next two-year state budget to be written by the Republican-controlled General Assembly during the upcoming legislative session.

The last two-year state budget was about $27 billion, but Gov. Mitch Daniels has ordered hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts amid the economic downturn. Republican state Sen. and Budget Committee Chairman Luke Kenley believes lawmakers will have to cut about $1 billion from current spending to avoid raising taxes.

The annual series of hearings begin Wednesday with budget requests from universities. They'll conclude with a revenue forecast on Dec. 15.