INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is proposing more money for K-12 education, a balanced budget, and a restored rainy-day fund for the next two years.
Lawmakers will consider his recommendations as they pass the budget this session but they’re also asking for your input.
“It’s good news for public education,” said Terry Spradlin, the Executive Director of the Indiana School Boards Association.
Spradlin is thrilled Holcomb proposed a $377 million dollar budget increase for K-12 over the next two years.
“When given real money like what’s being proposed here, we are driving the increases support through K-12 education into teachers’ salaries,” said Spradlin. “So that will happen, it’s what we use those funds for.”
He also noted Holcomb’s strategy to pay down a pre-1996 Teacher Retirement Fund Liability.
“Which would also, in turn, free up $69 million annually that could be invested also in tuition support which will result in teacher pay increases,” said Spradlin.
In a press release sent in response to the governor’s budget proposal, State Sen. Eddie Melton had an entirely different interpretation of Holcomb’s efforts to help educators.
“Hoosier educators were promised long overdue pay increases this budget cycle, and there was nothing in the governor’s budget that indicated his desire to follow through on his own promise. This pandemic showed the lengths our teachers go through to creatively educate our kids and their work this past year has shown that they are even more deserving of immediate pay raises. The Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission spent two years researching teacher pay in our state and developing recommendations on ways to make salaries more competitive for our Hoosier educators. So, I’m deeply disappointed to see the governor’s lack of commitment when it comes to supporting the recommendations put forth by his own commission.” said Sen. Melton. “If the governor truly wants to see action on teacher pay, I encourage him to actually make this a priority and get his party behind him to get this done. The Senate Democrats have proposals this year to raise teacher pay, and we are ready to partner with the governor to pass this legislation.”
Holcomb wants a balanced budget, a restored prudent reserve fund, and a maintained AAA rating. Democrats on the state budget committee said his proposal is missing crucial elements to help struggling Hoosiers during the pandemic.
“So many families that are struggling and still in this budget the food banks across the state of Indiana is still receiving a very stagnant $300,000 that they’ve received probably close to over a decade,” said Melton. “To me, there seems to be no recognition of the people who are struggling. Instead, the governor’s office focuses on spending $5 million to incentivize international flights to and from Indiana. That shouldn’t be a priority when we have people in our state who are struggling to feed their families.”
“We continue to give breaks to corporate America, big corporations, but we are not taking care of the smaller mom and pop stores,” said Democratic State Rep. Greg Porter of Indianapolis.
Holcomb suggests using a little more than $700 million to pay down debt to save money in the future. Even with that, the state should have more than $2 billion dollars in reserves.
“That’s nice to do, however, you have bonding, and the bonds are cheap right now, money is very cheap,” said Porter. “Why take money that you could take care of individuals vs. Bonding?”
Holcomb’s plan is only the beginning of the discussion. Lawmakers have several months to pass a budget for the next two years.
“It’s solely going to rely on the community to get engaged in this process, to let their voices be heard,” said Melton.
To read more about the governor’s proposal, click here.
For the full presentation to the budget committee, click here.