Senate Budget Boosts Education, But Republicans Defeat Dems' Guaranteed Teacher Raises

The budget proposes spending a total of $34.6 billion in state fiscal years 2020 and 2021.

Indiana Senate

(Indianapolis, Ind.) – With fewer than three weeks remaining in the 2019 Indiana legislative session, there are now three budget proposals at the Statehouse.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved their $34.6 billion total spending plan. It now heads to the full Senate for a vote.

The Senate’s version of the state’s next two-year budget would spend $15 billion on schools over the next two years with a 2.7 percent increase in the first year and 2.2 percent in the second year. That includes a $150 million pension pick-up, and another $160 million in money that senators hope goes toward teacher pay raises.

The school funding increase is slightly higher than the 2 percent increase included in Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s proposed budget. Holcomb says he hopes to negotiate a final budget plan with lawmakers over the next few weeks. 

“I appreciate the Senate’s hard work in crafting its budget priorities. There are now three budget proposals – the House, the Senate, and my administration. Now we can and will build consensus during the final stretch,” the governor said in a statement.

None of the increases are required to go toward boosting teacher pay, though local school corporations could award raises with more funding and reduced pension liability. The Republican committee rejected a Democrat amendment to the budget bill that would have created a grant program to guarantee a five percent raise for teachers.

“Our teachers make less than any of our neighboring states, and Indiana ranks dead last in the country for teacher salary growth. It is time we do the right thing and pay our educators what they deserve. This is a common sense amendment to invest not only in our teachers, but also in our students,” State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) said.

Democrats offered a second amendment to the budget concerning the cleanup of brownfield sites, such as the former Tanners Creek Power Plant property in Lawrenceburg and its coal ash landfills. The proposed language would give Indiana Brownfields $50 million for remediation on contaminated industrial sites and $100 million to the water infrastructure fund as well as the transportation infrastructure fund.

The Senate spending plan would provide a smaller increase for the Indiana Department of Child Services. The agency requested a $286 million budget increase prior to the legislative session beginning.

RELATED STORIES:

House Budget: More Money For Indiana Schools; No Teacher Raise

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

Indiana DCS Director Requests $286M Budget Increase

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