INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — State lawmakers announced Tuesday they have agreed to provide $763 million in spending for K-12 schools, increasing base school funding by 2.5% over the 2017 biennial budget.
The budget plan in House Bill 1001 now calls for $689 million in new money for K-12 education and $74 million for K-12 programs. The added program spending includes teacher appreciations grants, the Non-English Program, the Secured School Safety Grant Program and a new Teacher and Student Advancement Grant Program.
“The first place we go to in our state investments is to educating our children, pre-K through happy retirement.” Gov. Eric Holcomb said Tuesday afternoon.
Lawmakers’ funding proposals never came close to the 9% increase that education advocacy groups estimated was needed to boost Indiana’s average teacher pay to the midpoint of neighboring states.
The $763 million in spending includes $37 million per year for the teacher appreciation grants.
“Keeping our promise that we would make every teacher receive a portion of these funds.” House Speaker Brian Bosma said.
On that note, what does all this new money mean for teacher pay?
“This gets more dollars into teacher paychecks, which is exactly what I was trying to by pushing that tax credit from $100 to $500,” Holcomb said.
Dennis Costerison, executive director of the Indiana Association of School Business Officials, said, “We want to focus on teacher salaries as part of what this new money goes. It’s key for us to also say we have always felt that the General Assembly appropriates the dollars and those dollars are given then to the local school districts to make decisions. That’s local control.”
At that local level, lawmakers also said boosted the Secured School Safety Grant Program $9 million to $19 million.
“I feel very honored that we can be able to move Indiana forward in this way,” Indiana’s Senate President Pro Tempore Rod Bray said.
Among the other changes, there is also a huge boost for Indiana’s yearly English-as-a-second-language program, from $17.5 million to $22.5 million.
The measure also calls for moving the Aug. 1 kindergarten start date to Sept. 1 in 2019, to Oct. 1 in 2020.
The program funding also calls for $3 million in annual funding for computer science teacher training.
The budget plan runs from July 1 to June 30, 2020.
House Bill 1001 will now go to Gov. Eric Holcomb, who was expected to sign it.
Also, the 2019 legislative session could end Wednesday, lawmakers said.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb:
“From the very beginning, my administration, the House and the Senate shared our top two priorities – passing a balanced budget and protecting our reserves that in turn protects our AAA credit rating and increasing K-12 funding as much as we possibly could. This budget proposal does both. I appreciate the hard work of all of our colleagues as we near the end of this legislative session.”
Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, an Indianapolis Republican:
“The state budget proposal represents our strong commitment to funding the state’s priorities while holding the line on spending and maintaining reserves. We responsibly boosted investments in public K-12 education, school safety and proven workforce programs. Republican leaders in the House and Senate along with Gov. Eric Holcomb worked hard to meet the state’s needs and maintain a structurally balanced budget.”
Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, a Martinsville Republican:
“I am pleased with the tremendous amount of work and collaboration that has gone into this budget. Our proposed state budget is balanced, protects our reserves and includes a sizable increase of $763 million in education funding – all of which were goals that my caucus members and I set out to achieve in January.
“This budget is truly a win for Hoosier students, teachers and schools. With a $539 million increase in K-12 tuition support, an increase in per-student funding, and an increase in funding for our Teacher Appreciation Grants, among many other increases in education funding, we have a budget that will provide significantly more funding for our schools across the state.”
State Sen. Greg Taylor, an Indianapolis Democrat:
“It is disingenuous for the Republicans to say they support teachers and are adequately funding education when those numbers just don’t add up. They certainly did not put their money where their mouth is. This budget does not allocate one dime to raise teacher pay, despite the Democrats having a funding plan.
“Additionally, the Republican budget creates disparities in funding, disproportionately hurting urban schools. For example, the average percentage funding increase per student allocated to Indianapolis Public Schools over the next two years is only half of the increase the suburban district of Carmel is receiving. Worse still, this increase doesn’t even keep up with inflation over the two year budget – effectively making it a funding cut. Meanwhile, taxpayer funding for the private school voucher program is increasing at an even higher rate.
“This supermajority has ignored the funding needs of teachers at a time when their pay is lower than that of teachers in our neighboring states and their salary growth is the slowest in the nation. All the while, they have focused on legalizing the shooting of teachers during training. It’s ridiculous, and it doesn’t make sense.”