INDIANAPOLIS — After nearly 18 hours of debate, the Indiana General Assembly’s 2023 legislative session has come to an end.
Members of the Indiana Senate and House of Representatives worked until early Friday morning, discussing the state’s two-year budget plan. The plan was finally passed in the Indiana Senate around 2:50 a.m.; it passed in the House about one hour earlier.
Gov. Eric Holcomb saw the session as a success, saying it focused on key components of his 2023 Next Level Agenda.
One of the major topics of debate was education, including teacher raises. On Thursday night, Indiana GOP lawmakers revised the budget plan hours before the final vote, allocating an additional $300 million for K-12 school tuition support on top of the increase announced Wednesday. That funding was diverted from the state’s pre-1996 teacher retirement fund.
Democrats in the House and Senate remained doubtful of the budget, arguing there is not enough funding to provide a raise for educators.
“I don’t think so. I don’t know how,” said House Minority Leader State Rep. Phil GiaQuinta.
The executive director of the Indiana State Teachers Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, was also critical.
“It’s really not a game changer for public schools in the state. And in the second year we are really concerned what it means for public school,” said Dan Holub.
The goal is to reach an average teacher salary of $60,000.
“We are going to need some help from the local bargaining unit for sure, but this is an unprecedented level coming on the heels of previous budget that increase it by a billion back to back. So yes this can go a long way in realizing that goal, but it will be case by case,” said Gov. Holcomb about the proposed raise.
The state’s school voucher program also saw expansion. Families making up to $220,000 can now qualify. Lawmakers made a late change to the budget bill to provide another $300 million to K-12 tuition support.
“I’m proud of what was accomplished this legislative session and through collaboration and hard work we will be able to make transformational investments that will better the lives of Hoosiers and build a better today and stronger tomorrow,” said Holcomb in a statement.
Other areas that saw major funding are public health and grants to attract workers to Indiana.
The budget also included an increase to the starting salary of Indiana state troopers. The salary increases from $53,690 to $70,000 a year.
Holcomb said this is the 10th straight time lawmakers have balanced the state budget.
You can the governor’s full response to the session here.
Kristen Eskow contributed to this report.