$1.9 for education announced as part of ‘transformational’ 2-year budget plan

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A new Indiana state budget awash in federal coronavirus relief money will give a sizeable funding boost to public schools while also paying for numerous economic grant programs and construction projects.

The state budget deal announced Tuesday by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and GOP legislative leaders will boost school funding by about 4.5% each of the next two years. That is more than double what budget writers proposed earlier this month before new projections showed state tax collections are expected to bounce back stronger than expected from the pandemic recession.

Legislative leaders said the budget plan will cover the $600 million a year in additional money the governor’s teacher compensation commission said was needed to sufficiently raise Indiana’s lagging teacher pay.

The deal includes a contentious expansion of the state’s private school voucher program by raising income eligibility for a family of four from the current roughly $96,000 a year to about $145,000 for the coming school year.

Other provisions in the budget partially direct the spending of $3 billion in federal relief funding. That includes $500 million toward a regional economic development grants program, $550 for state building projects and $250 million for broadband internet expansion grants.

Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray issued the following statement:

“The state budget announced today is a truly historic investment in education, with $1.9 billion in new money for K-12 education. This budget also eliminates more than $1 billion in government debt and invests in the health of Hoosiers and the economic health of communities all across the state.

“Thanks to the collaboration among the House, Senate and governor’s office, we have also appropriated nearly every federal stimulus dollar coming to the state. The investments we are making today will leave our state’s finances better than we found them. Rather than create future obligations, we are creating flexibility for the state moving forward so that our state can continue to thrive and provide opportunities for all Hoosiers in Indiana.”

Executive Director for the Indiana Democratic Party Lauren Ganapini issued this statement:

“Because of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, Indiana has an opportunity to invest more dollars in the state, and it is encouraging to see the Indiana Republican Party heeding the advice from Hoosier Democrats to fund the state’s public schools at levels not seen since Democrats last controlled the Indiana House. That said, it should not be lost on anyone that instead of providing a full investment to public schools, Republicans are choosing to give more dollars to a partisan voucher system that Republican State Senator Vaneta Becker even described as being a ‘tool for the rich to educate their kids for free’.

Governor Holcomb and Statehouse Republicans are trying to have it both ways on education funding, but Hoosiers must remember that the Republicans have been consistently trying to tip the scales away from a strong public education for everyone to private schooling for some with taxpayer dollars.”

Indiana Secretary of Education Dr. Katie Jenner released the following statement:

“In Indiana’s budget, all Hoosier kids win,” said Secretary Jenner. “With an historic $1.9 billion in new K-12 education dollars over the biennium, Indiana’s school funding increases are enabling Indiana’s schools to strategically invest in our students as well as our educators. This transformational funding increase, in addition to the influx of more than $3 billion in emergency federal funding, puts our schools on solid footing to accelerate beyond the challenges of the last year and ensure each and every Hoosier student is prepared for lifelong success. 

“Hoosier educators in particular should benefit from this budget as the General Assembly embraced a range of recommendations set by the Teacher Compensation Commission. These efforts will be critical to increasing teacher pay, strengthening Indiana’s teacher pipeline, and attracting and retaining our best and brightest to this purposeful, difference-making profession.

“This student-centered, future-focused budget prioritizes Indiana’s schools, creating immense opportunities for every Hoosier student, in every Hoosier school, and in every Hoosier community.”

Also on Tuesday, Governor Holcomb signed five of his Next Level Agenda bills and one executive order. For more information, click on the following links below:

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