Legislature and State Government and Government & Economic Development and Government

Top Indiana House budget writer won't seek new term

February 10, 2012

The leader of the Indiana House's budget-writing committee announced Friday he won't seek re-election this fall and will end 40-year legislative career.

Rep. Jeff Espich of Uniondale had said for months he intended to run for a new term even though fellow Republicans put his northeastern Indiana home into the same House district with another GOP legislator when they redrew electoral maps last spring.

Espich has been the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee since the 1990s and is currently the committee's chairman.

"I have worked hard and tried to lead well," Espich said in a letter to The Journal Gazette. "I hope I have succeeded in the minds and hearts of my constituents."

During last year's state budget debate, Espich oversaw changes in how education funding is distributed so the state only pays school districts for students actually enrolled, eliminating the extra cash shrinking districts had long received to help ease their financial losses after students leave. The previous system had led to shrinking urban and rural districts often getting higher funding per student and fast-growing suburban districts getting lower amounts.

Espich described the other Republican legislators representing areas near Fort Wayne as his friends — including Rep. Dan Leonard of Huntington, who already has filed for May's GOP primary in the district where he and Espich live.

Espich is one of the General Assembly's longest-serving current members, having won election every two years since 1972.

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