(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Democrats returned to work in Indiana’s House of Representatives Monday and by Wednesday night the chamber had passed a budget bill.
The two-year spending plan, House Bill 1001, received a 60-37 vote – largely along party lines. It now heads to the Senate where it could face changes which would result in a conference committee to decide upon a final version to send to the governor’s desk.
Passing a budget is one task the state legislature must complete by April 29 to avoid a special session. Overtime looked to be a possibility when House Democrats left the state for five weeks in protest of bills affecting unions wages and charter schools.
Ten of the 34 budget bill amendments offered by Democrats this week were adopted.
The current bill spends $27.7 billion over two years, about $1 billion less than the last state budget.
Education is the biggest single chunk with $6.2 billion each year for K-12.
While the budget plan does not increase or decrease statewide education funding, it does change the formula to determine how much each school district receives. Schools with declining enrollment will no longer receive extra money.
State Rep. Bill Crawford (D-Indianapolis) warned that school corporations with less cash than needed could turn to voters in their districts to approve referendums for tax increases to close budget gaps.
The state budget proposal does restore Medicaid funding for dental and podiatry services which Governor Mitch Daniels had proposed cutting.
Funding for state agencies will remain flat.