Two weeks after Republican House members approved their proposed state budget, Senate lawmakers formally began debate on the two-year spending plan today.
Both Gov. Mike Pence and House Republicans called for spending more than $15.3 billion on K-12 education; the total amounts the two sides propose to spend on K-12 education are only $74 million apart.
But what about The Tax Cut?
Gov. Mike Pence has said he’s “disappointed” with the House plan because it didn’t include his proposal to slash income taxes by 10 percent.
As we’ve explained, whether lawmakers work Pence’s tax cut into the budget could hinge upon how they fund other priorities, such as education.
So how far apart are the House GOP and Pence on certain key line items in the K-12 budget?
- general fund comes from, along with dollars for charter schools and Indiana’s voucher program. Including full-day kindergarten dollars, the House GOP plan calls for $80 million more than Pence’s plan over the next two years. “Tuition Support” for K-12 Schools: This is where funding for a public school district’s
- Teacher Retirement Fund Distribution: Funding for this line item has ballooned over the past decade from $266 million in 2003-04 to $679 million in the current fiscal year. Pence’s plan proposes appropriating $19 million less to the retirement fund than the House GOP plan in the next fiscal year. In Fiscal Year 2015, their funding amounts are the same.
- STEM Teacher Recruitment Fund: This line item — $5 million over the next two years — is unique to the House GOP plan.
- Innovation Fund: From this pool of cash, the Department of Education disburses grants to help schools do cool new things. While the House GOP budget proposal calls for level funding, Pence proposes injecting another $15 million into the fund over the next two years.
- Indiana Works Council: This is one of Pence’s stated priorities — creating regionally-centered panels to bring local employers and schools together to bolster career and technical education. The House GOP would appropriate $2 million for the initiative over the next two years. Pence would appropriate $6 million.
House Republicans say their plan would increase K-12 funding by nearly $344 million over the next two years.
But “budget matters get complex very quickly,” writes longtime education policy-watcher Vic Smith, who contends that in the end, the budget proposal currently in the Senate would add “$47 million in what can truly be called new money.”
Smith says lawmakers and the governor must add more funding to erase cuts to K-12 funding the Daniels administration made during the Great Recession.
We’ve also been watching the higher education budget. While Pence proposes a modest increase in funding for building projects on the state’s college campuses, the House GOP plan calls for record levels of facilities funding.