Indiana Statehouse budget guru Kenley retiring

INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) The next time Indiana lawmakers craft a budget, there’s going to be a major change at who’s behind it.

On Wednesday, State Senator Luke Kenley announced he’s retiring after 25 years. The 72-year-old Republican from Noblesville has had a hand in nearly all money-related matters before the Legislature over the past decade.

Kenley caught up with the Indiana Statehouse Bureau Thursday to explain why he’s calling it a career now.

He said he spent the past session grooming other appropriation members to take his position. He believes they’ll be able to assume the position when lawmakers have to craft a new budget in 2019.

He’s not done yet. Kenley took part in a budget committee Thursday to get an explanation about why the state took over the I-69 project in Martinsville.

During the meeting, not only his Republican colleagues thanked him, but Democrats did as well.

“I started out as a person who really was never that enthused about government,” Kenley said. “Somehow I managed to serve two and half years in the army and 15 as a city court judge and then 25 years as a state senator.”

“If they were having a problem with something in Gary, he would get in his car and drive up there, and say, ‘Explain this to me now,’ State Senator Karen Tallian, a Democrat from Portage, said. “You know, that’s what it took to do that job and he has done it.”

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb says Kenley has been an essential state-budget architect for years, with few sharing his understanding of the state’s finances.

Kenley said passing the road funding bill was another reason why he retired. The law increases the price at the pump and adds fees, but he believes it will maintain Indiana’s roads for years to come.

Kenley will leave his position on September 30. Party leaders will select his replacement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.