The House GOP budget proposal unveiled Friday morning restores cuts to K-12 education made during the recession, allocating more dollars to education than at any time in state history. But, Democrats say it is not enough.
Governor Mitch Daniels cut three hundred million dollars from K-12 education in the middle of the recession and the House Republican budget proposal released Friday would restore that money by the end of the next biennium with a little added on top.
House Ways and Means Chair Tim Brown’s budget includes a $344 million increase over two years. It also appropriates a little less than $17 million in the second year in extra, performance-based funding, though Brown says he is not yet sure what that will look like.
“We’ve had the conversation, how many points do you incorporate? How do you keep it simple but yet be meaningful? And so we haven’t come to a conclusion of what that performance equation will be like,” he says.
But House Minority Leader Scott Pelath says the state should use more of its surplus to bolster education funding.
“We’re going to realize we’re still in tough economic times. We’re going to do better for traditional public schools that Brown and the House Republicans have suggested,” he says.
Democrats and other Republicans will be given a chance to amend the budget in the Ways and Means committee Tuesday.
The House Republican budget proposal contains what Brown calls one of the strongest, sustainable, long-term investments in infrastructure funding he’s seen in his legislative career.
Funding for Indiana’s roads and bridges has been a source of concern after the state’s Major Moves dollars were tapped out by various projects, notably Interstate-69.
House Speaker Brian Bosma says he has heard from several of Indiana’s major corporations worried about the condition of Indiana’s roads.
“The phrase ‘Our infrastructure is crumbling’ has come up more than once and I’ve noticed it myself just driving on the highway. So we’re going to have to invest here in a strong fashion,” he says.
Proposals in the House GOP budget would permanently increase road and bridge funding by $250 million a year. Brown says that is done, in part, by ending diversions of the gas tax that help fund the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and State Police.
“If you have a dedicated tax, it should go for the dedicated purpose. 18.8 cents of gas tax should go for roads and bridges, shouldn’t it?” Brown says.
The House GOP budget also allocates 20 percent of the state sales tax on gasoline for infrastructure. Brown says the money is not targeted to specific projects, such the completion of I-69.