Indiana Senate Republicans outline $34.6 billion budget proposal

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana Senate Republicans on Thursday outlined their $34.6 billion budget proposal.

A lot of money’s at stake, and not all lawmakers are convinced it’s going to the right places. ​​​​​​The bill as a whole passed out of a committee Thursday and now heads to the Senate floor for consideration. The governor said it’s one of three budget plans now being considered by the full legislature. 

In March, teacher Leslie Boyd shared the hard truth about her reality.

“I have seven years of teaching experience under contract,” Leslie Boyd, a teacher with East Gibson Schools said. “I have 20 years’ work experience in and around education, a master’s degree, and I make $37,000 a year.” 

Lawmakers say they’re trying all teachers more money. 

As part of their budget proposal, Senate Republicans outlined a boost in K-12 funding, to $14.9 billion over two years.

Another part of the plan aims to free up district money, by taking on $150 million of school districts’ future teacher pension obligations. Republicans said that change will free upwards of $70 million they hope school district’s will use to increase teacher pay.

Republican state Sen. Ryan Mishler said, “Without dictating to the schools, I think by forcing them to have a public meeting on how they intend to spend that, I think that puts some pressure on the schools and sends them a message that we would like it to go to teacher pay.” 

The plan also calls for $90 million in teacher appreciation grants over two years. Cash stipends would go to every Indiana teacher who is ranked as “effective” or “highly effective.” 

A third of the money schools get for teacher appreciation grants would have to be issued to teachers with less than five years’ experience.

“The bottom line is teacher appreciation grant is money schools will be able to use to put directly into teacher’s pockets,” Republican Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray said.

About the Republicans’ proposal, Democratic state Sen. Eddie Melton said, “I still have a lot of concerns when it comes down to teacher pay.” 

Senate Democrats championed two of their own budget amendments Thursday, but both failed.

One would have shifted money around for teacher pay. 

“We’re proposing a new educator’s salary grant,” Democratic state Sen. Karen Tallian said. “This would be a new categorical grant to provide a 5% salary increase.”

Statement

Gov. Eric J. Holcomb:

“I appreciate the Senate’s hard work in crafting its budget priorities. There are now three budget proposals – the House, the Senate, and my administration. Now we can and will build consensus during the final stretch.”

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