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Indiana Democrats ‘shocked’ over Pence’s proposed budget

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 8, 2015) - Gov. Mike Pence Thursday unveiled a massive, multi-billion dollar budget proposal that left some lawmakers furious.

Democrats on the budget committee badgered the governor's proposal Thursday, calling it shocking, with a lack of transparency.

“This taking all of our money and putting it into buying buildings for cash, is being done at the expense of cuts to every single agency,” said State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Porter.

Tallian sits on the Budget Committee.  Her biggest bone to pick with the governor's budget is $700 million allotted for capital projects, all of which are proposed to be paid in cash.  It's an effort, the governor's office said, to keep Indiana debt free.

“The public needs to know that the supreme courts projects aren’t getting funded because we’re going to build new cash buildings. They need to know that DCS isn’t getting funded because we’re building new cash buildings,” said Tallian.

Zero debt, no new spending, and maintaining reserves were among Pence's priorities.

But it was clear where the state's finances were prioritized.

Education received a major piece of the pie, including $200 million in increased K-12 funding, an additional $63 million for teacher performance grants, and increased funding for Charter Schools, with an additional $1,500 per pupil in every school.

"When we look at what available revenue growth there is, he emphasized the K-12 funding," said Rep. Tim Brown, R–Crawfordsville.

Brown, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said the governor did what he could with the money he has.  When asked about the all cash payout projects, picked at by Democrats, he responded, "When we're trying to be prudent with the taxpayers’ dollars, let's try to get a project at the lowest cost we can and interest expense doesn't add any more rooms or any more facilities or any more educational opportunity."

Additionally, after a year of much back and forth over funding between the governor and domestic violence shelters, the governor this time around allotted $1 million more per year in grant funding for them.

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