Budget bill includes $22M annually for state pre-K program

Indiana lawmakers overnight released a final proposal for the two-year state budget to gear up for the final day of session for the Indiana General Assembly.

The budget still needs to be approved by both the House and Senate. House Speaker Brian Bosma said that could come in the wee hours of Saturday morning in accordance with legislative rules, but it could be earlier.

The budget allots $22 million annually for the state’s fledgling pre-kindergarten pilot program—shy of the $50 million advocates said they wanted, but that's $9 million more in funding than the Senate version of the bill proposed, and more than double the $10 million the program gets now.

The pilot will expand from five to 20 counties. The funding amount includes $1 million for an in-home software program aimed at rural counties without other preschool providers.

Rep. Ed Delaney, D-Indianapolis, called the preschool allotment a “a very, very modest step in the direction we need to go.”

But Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, said “If it actually yields the results we all expect it will, I believe that is a way we can finally get to where we need to be.”

The budget proposal would allow for a 3.3 percent increase in K-12 funding over the next two years. That amounts to $7.04 billion in 2018 and $7.2 billion in 2019.

The budget also provides $30 million in each 2018 and 2019 for so-called “teacher appreciation grants,” previously known as teacher-performance grants—something that the Senate version of the bill included but the House version ignored.

The budget also will provide about $30 million more over two years for Indiana State Police salaries.

This story will be updated.

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