Governor's Budget Proposal Allots More For DCS, Education; Is It Enough?

The $33 billion, two-year state budget proposal was submitted Thursday.

Indiana Statehouse

(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Indiana's governor wants to spend more than a half-billion dollars more on child welfare and public education in his next state budget. 

Governor Eric Holcomb submitted his budget request to the State Budget Committee on Thursday. The entire two-year spending plan totals $33 billion.

He wants to increase spending at the Indiana Department of Child Services by $286 million.  That matches new money appropriated to the agency last year as it has been swamped with an increase in cases of abused and neglected children.

Holcomb is also asking lawmakers for $430 million more for public schools in the state, a two-percent increase each of the next two years. About half of the state budget will be dedicated to K-12 education and teacher retirement.

The new funding would not be required to go toward teacher pay, which would remain up to the discretion of local school boards. Earlier this week, Republican-backed House Bill 1003 was filed seeking to require school districts to set a target of 85 percent of state funding to be spent by local school districts on teacher pay and classroom costs.

Lawmakers are open to the ideas in the governor's spending plan.

“Governor Holcomb’s proposed two-year state budget is responsibly balanced based upon the revenue forecast and reflects many of our shared priorities, including increasing funding for Hoosier schools,” said State Rep. Todd Huston (R-Fishers), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. “The state’s latest fiscal outlook confirms Indiana’s economy is running strong, and we will continue working with Governor Holcomb and our counterparts in the Senate to keep the momentum going.”

Others have questions. Democratic Senator Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was hoping Holcomb’s budget would somehow include a guaranteed pay increase for Hoosier teachers.

“He says that we don’t have enough money to add new funding for teachers’ salaries. All we can do, according to the governor, is give tax credits for school supplies – while still expecting teachers to use their own money to support their classrooms,” Tallian said, adding Democrats have a proposal to directly give raises.

Holcomb will defend his budget and legislative priorities in his annual State of the State Address next Tuesday evening, January 15.

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