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Proposed Senate Budget Increases Education, Road Funding

New funds, where the money comes from and how much are the issues in dispute as the state's budget moves forward.

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Photo: 401K 2012 (Flickr)

The budget now heads to the Senate floor after the Appropriations Committee approved it Thursday.

Education Increases

The Senate GOP budget proposed Thursday significantly increases Kindergarten through 12th grade education funding, but Senate Democrats say it doesn’t do enough to help the state’s public schools.

The Senate budget contains more than three hundred million dollars in increases for K through 12 funding, a three percent boost over the next two years.

That’s in line with the House Republican budget proposal.  But Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane notes K-12 schools took a significant funding cut during the recession.

“Before we start talking about further tax cuts and some other things that are being considered in this budget, we think that that’s crucial that there be a full restoration of the 327 million dollars that was taken during the Daniels’ years,” Lanane says.

Senate Appropriations Chair Luke Kenley, the budget’s author, says he’s not interested in talking about restoration, which he calls ancient history.

“Everybody in Indiana and everybody in America took a hit when we went through that recession and so what I’m interested in is looking at the dollars that we have today and seeing how many more dollars we can add to that and getting a positive result out of the schools for that investment,” Kenley says.

The budget now heads to the Senate floor after the Appropriations Committee approved it Thursday.

Road Funding

The budget proposal by Indiana Senate Republicans creates a new Major Moves Trust Fund aimed at helping pay for significant transportation projects in the future.

The Senate GOP budget contains more than two hundred million dollars in road funding to both state and local governments in each of the next two years.  It also puts away four hundred million dollars to begin saving for projects such as the completion of I-69 and making I-65 and I-70 six lanes wide across the entire state.

Senate Appropriations Chair Luke Kenley, the budget author, says the trust fund is about getting the process started.

“The cost of all these projects is so big that sometimes you don’t where to start or how to start and so my thought was, ‘You need to make a commitment.’  And I felt like we could afford to do the two hundred million a year for at least this next biennium,” Kenley says.

Though Governor Mike Pence wouldn’t comment specifically on the Senate roads funding proposal, he notes his proposed budget includes more than three hundred million dollars for transportation funding.

“We’re very much of a mind that roads mean jobs and believe that increased road funding by definition should be a part of a final version of this budget,” Pence says.

However, Pence’s proposal funds roads by siphoning money from state budget reserves. Kenley says he thinks it’s better to use permanent General Fund money.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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