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Indiana senators approve state fair, education money

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State senators allocated more state money for victims of the Indiana State Fair stage collapse and full-day kindergarten as part of a broad spending plan approved Wednesday.

The Senate voted 44-6 to approve the measure, which also reworks the state's automatic taxpayer refund to require the state save more money before refunds begin going to taxpayers. The bill now heads to a conference committee to work out differences with House lawmakers.

The measure gives an additional $6 million to victims of the stage collapse last summer. Seven people died and 58 were injured when a stage at the state fair collapsed. The state has already paid out $5 million from an existing fund to cover lawsuits, but state lawmakers agreed that the victims — who were still left paying many medical expenses out of pocket — needed more money.

The spending package approved Wednesday also allots $80 million for school systems to implement full-day kindergarten. As it stands the state sends grants to schools covering roughly half of the cost to begin full-day kindergarten.

Lawmakers began working on the spending package after the state found $320 million it mistakenly left in an untapped state account last December. Daniels spokeswoman Jane Jankowski would only say the governor is tracking the bill's progress.

The plan would increase the threshold before state reserves are sent to taxpayers. As it stands, when the state socks away an amount in savings equal to 10 percent of the state's general spending it automatically returns half of everything above that amount to taxpayers and sends the other half to a teacher pension fund to pay down the state's massive pension liabilities for teachers hired before 1996.

The Senate plan would increase the trigger from 10 percent to 14 percent of general spending. It would also mandate that the state teacher pension liability be paid down first, up to a certain amount, before taxpayers begin receiving refunds.

The plan would also change how the money is sent back to taxpayers. Daniels' plan returns the money proportional to how much state tax was paid, but the Senate measure makes it an equal amount for each taxpayer.

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  1. I never thought I'd see the day when a Republican Mayor would lead the charge in attempting to raise every tax we have to pay. Now it's income taxes and property taxes that Ballard wants to increase. And to pay for a pre-K program? Many studies have shown that pre-K offer no long-term educational benefits whatsoever. And Ballard is pitching it as a way of fighting crime? Who is he kidding? It's about government provided day care. It's a shame that we elected a Republican who has turned out to be a huge big spending, big taxing, big borrowing liberal Democrat.

  2. Why do we blame the unions? They did not create the 11 different school districts that are the root of the problem.

  3. I was just watching an AOW race from cleveland in 1997...in addition to the 65K for the race, there were more people in boats watching that race from the lake than were IndyCar fans watching the 2014 IndyCar season finale in the Fontana grandstands. Just sayin...That's some resurgence modern IndyCar has going. Almost profitable, nobody in the grandstands and TV ratings dropping 61% at some tracks in the series. Business model..."CRAZY" as said by a NASCAR track general manager. Yup, this thing is purring like a cat! Sponsors...send them your cash, pronto!!! LOL, not a chance.

  4. I'm sure Indiana is paradise for the wealthy and affluent, but what about the rest of us? Over the last 40 years, conservatives and the business elite have run this country (and state)into the ground. The pendulum will swing back as more moderate voters get tired of Reaganomics and regressive social policies. Add to that the wave of minority voters coming up in the next 10 to 15 years and things will get better. unfortunately we have to suffer through 10 more years of gerrymandered districts and dispropionate representation.

  5. Funny thing....rich people telling poor people how bad the other rich people are wanting to cut benefits/school etc and that they should vote for those rich people that just did it. Just saying..............

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