Here's a recipe for partisan controversy, from 1939. Ingredient one: It was traditional for the president of the United States to declare a day of Thanksgiving, and then for the governors of the states to schedule the holiday. The president always declared the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving. It was listed on the 1939 calendars for that day, and family gatherings and football games were already scheduled.
An unsettling number popped up on my computer screen last week. The index of leading economic indicators for Indiana decreased in August. It was the first decline since April 2009, during the Great Recession. The leading index is "leading" because it is made up of economic measurements that change before the general economy. If a recession is coming, the leading indicators drop first. If a recession is about to end, and a recovery will begin, the leading indicators start moving up first.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that payroll employment in the United States in August had increased by 189,000. It was a typical number for the last couple of years. The average so far this year has been 178,000. The average last year was 187,000. August was a normal month.
It's August, the start of the fall semester, and a good time to figure out what's going on in the economy. There are some new limits on what can happen, because we're close to full employment.
The most wonderful time of the year has come and gone for those who follow the Indiana state budget. On July 19, the State Budget Agency presented its accounting of what happened to revenues, spending and balances in fiscal 2017. The state ran an annual surplus of $42 million, and ended with balances of $1.78 billion, down from $2.24 billion in 2016.
Think of the changes in the Indiana property tax system between 1998 and 2010. The Indiana Supreme Court threw out the assessment system in December 1998. We started using market values for the reassessment in 2003. In 2002, we changed the formula for calculating the maximum property tax levy, and created a huge deduction for homesteads. In 2004, we amended the Indiana Constitution to allow those big homestead deductions. In 2008, we increased them even more.
I saw a new orange sign on my way to the office this morning. It said "Road Work Ahead." I thought, You got that right.