Indiana lawmakers in final negotiations over the next two-year state budget got some good news Wednesday about revenue projections for 2018 and 2019.
Now the House and Senate will take the next two weeks to hash out their differences on the state spending plan.
Over six years, the state has spent more than a half billion dollars on vouchers. During that time, Indiana’s program has expanded, giving more students access to vouchers than in any other state—despite mixed evidence from researchers that vouchers help students achieve.
A House bill that would increase state funding to send low-income children to preschool was gutted in an Indiana Senate committee, setting up a potential clash between the two chambers.
House Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown called the $31.4 billion budget an “honest appraisal of the money we have and the spending priorities we have going forward.”
Advocates of constructing a new archives building say the current location, on East 30th Street, is falling into disrepair and that the situation is getting dire.
Raising the cigarette tax by $1 per pack would help pay for Medicaid spending and tobacco-cessation programs—and would help patch the $300 million annual hole in the budget created by the House’s road-funding plan.
Republican legislators are considering taking the next step toward adding a balanced budget amendment to the Indiana Constitution, despite claims it’s unnecessary.
Gov. Eric Holcomb is pushing a plan aimed at attracting new nonstop and direct flights to and from the Indianapolis International Airport.
The plan to skill up Indiana’s adult workforce could help prepare the state to fill an estimated 1 million jobs by 2025, most of which will be openings created by the impending retirements of baby boomers.
Preschool advocates want the Indiana Legislature to spend $50 million a year to expand the state’s pilot program. So far, lawmakers seem cool to that idea.
Gov.-elect Eric Holcomb, who announced his legislative agenda Thursday, has roughly the same idea as Gov. Mike Pence when it comes to investing in early-stage Indiana companies, but wants to pay for the plan through a different fund.
As GOP leaders preach frugality ahead of the annual legislative session that kicks off Tuesday, they are also planning for a big increase in infrastructure spending—and are considering raising taxes of some kind to pay for it.
The Senate will gavel in for this year's session at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. The House will gavel in Wednesday at the same time.
An increase in state gas taxes, tolling and a vehicle fee are among many possibilities suggested by a task force to pay for road improvements expected to cost as much as $1.2 billion annually.
The long-term forecast was sunnier, with revenue projected to increase 2.9 percent in 2018 and 3.9 percent in 2019.
Legislative leaders have sounded alarm bells over state revenue figures, saying lawmakers will need to take a cautious approach to investing in new programs such as expanding state-funded preschool and raising teacher pay.
At Tuesday’s Organization Day, Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma called for lawmakers to move past a "rough" campaign season and refocus on the priorities of state government when the Legislature convenes in early January.