INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana public school districts historically raise money for things such as safety through tax referendums.
Now, some lawmakers want the state to step up and create a plan to raise taxes for school safety through ballot measures.
“Yes, I’d definitely pay more taxes for their safety,” parent Monica Pipes said Wednesday.
Pipes has a young son in school.
“What’s been going on with the shootings and so much violence in the schools. It’s really sad to see the families have to go through all that,” Pipes said.
Two school shootings happened in Indiana in 2018: Noblesville in May and Richmond in December.
“As schools prepare, God forbid, those types of events take place, we’re just trying to give them a revenue source to raise the money to protect our schools,” state Rep. Todd Huston, a Republican from Fishers, said.
On Wednesday, lawmakers in the House Ways and Means Committee talked about Senate BIll 127. It would give your child’s school district a way to find the money they need to make sure your schools and communities are safe: Ask voters on the ballot.
The money could help pay for “school safety issues. It could be for mental health,” Huston said. “It could be for providing safer doors, locks. Anything that is involves a school safety plan that local administrators determine is the safest thing for their students.”
State Rep. Greg Porter is a co-sponsor of the bill. He wants it to go even further.
“We’re looking at some amendments to increase the potential of having more cameras or infrastructure for schools through other means of revenue,” the Indianapolis Democrat said. For example, “looking at some gaming licenses that people pay for. Take some of those dollars and move them toward infrastructure.”
Other parents weighed in on the tax idea.
“I’d want more information. What that school safety and security actually means,” parent Danielle Giles said. “That could mean a lot of things. Does that mean arming teachers? I don’t know that I’d be comfortable with that. Does that mean improving mental health services for children that seem like they’re disturbed? Yeah, I would definitely pay for that.”
The bill would require school districts to use the money for school safety, but it’s not clear if the districts have to tell taxpayers exactly how the money will be spent.
The bill passed the committee. It now heads to the floor for consideration.