Indiana drivers would face tougher penalties for passing stopped school buses under a bill that’s been approved by legislators.

Top Indiana Republicans are touting their state budget plan that increases base school funding by 2.5% percent each of the next two years as making strides toward improving teacher pay.

Posted: Apr 23, 2019 10:08 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Top Indiana Republicans are touting their state budget plan that increases base school funding by 2.5% percent each of the next two years as making strides toward improving teacher pay.

Gov. Eric Holcomb joined GOP legislative leaders Tuesday and announced a budget deal that’s expected to be approved Wednesday as this year’s General Assembly session ends.

Republican leaders said they are also helping school districts by paying off $150 million of their teacher pension obligations and boosting a program that gives one-time stipends to teachers. They calculate that various program funding increases will lead to a 4.5% increase in money to schools — although that will vary greatly by district, and includes funding increases for the state’s private school voucher program and charter schools.

Holcomb and other Republicans had talked of the importance of improving the state’s lagging teacher salaries since before the legislative session began in January. But their funding proposals never came close to the 9% increase that education advocacy groups estimated was needed to boost Indiana’s average teacher pay to the midpoint of neighboring states.

Holcomb said the budget plan responsibly directs more money to schools and protects the state’s cash reserves of about $2 billion while a teacher pay commission he appointed in February begins its work.

“As we’re working on these short-term, immediate needs, we’re simultaneously working on a long-term plan to systemically increase teacher pay,” he said.

The governor and legislative leaders were joined at Tuesday’s budget announcement in the House chamber by officials from six groups representing school boards and school administrators, but no teacher organizations.

Hundreds of teachers attended Statehouse rallies and local demonstrations calling for greater funding increases. The Indiana State Teachers Association, the state’s largest teachers union, said Tuesday it appreciated the state’s best school funding boost in 11 years but will continue to fight for more money.

“ISTA presented reasonable goals for funding increases to the legislature, however, policymakers remain unwilling to expand revenue to address long-term public education funding issues and teacher pay,” ISTA President Teresa Meredith said in a statement. “Our members are just getting started and will continue advocacy efforts into the future.

Democrats have argued the state could direct more money to schools by either tapping the state’s cash reserves, which total about 11% of annual state spending, or suspending corporate tax cuts previously approved.

An analysis provided by Democrats shows the GOP spending plan increases traditional school funding by about 2% a year, while charter schools will see 10% more money and private school voucher funding goes up 9% the first budget year and about 5.5% the second year.

“Republicans continue to prioritize unaccountable charter and voucher schools at the expense of traditional public schools,” said House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta of Fort Wayne. “Despite Republican leadership claiming this is a historic increase in K-12 funding, it’s clear that our traditional public schools will not receive the resources they need.”

Another provision in the budget deal trims an additional $572 million over the next two years requested by Holcomb toward allowing the state’s troubled Department of Child Services to keep hundreds of new caseworkers. The plan allocates $502 million more to the agency as budget writers say its growth in expenses has slowed.

“The administration has done a phenomenal job of driving down DCS costs and they should be credited for that,” said Republican House Ways and Means Committee co-chairman Todd Huston of Fishers.

The plan also allocates an unexpected $185 million toward extension and improvement projects for the South Shore commuter rail line that runs between South Bend and Chicago. That money comes from a $1 billion payment that the operator of the Indiana Toll Road paid in a deal allowing a 35 percent fee increases for large trucks.

Lawmakers are taking that money from a pool of nearly $800 million that Holcomb had designated to speed up completion of the Interstate 69 extension between Martinsville and Indianapolis and projects on U.S. Routes 20, 30 and 31.

House Speaker Brian Bosma said the governor’s staff indicated they had sufficient money in highway reserve accounts to pay for those highway projects and keep them on schedule.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 36578

Reported Deaths: 2258
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion10188604
Lake3876207
Allen181071
Cass15919
Elkhart158528
St. Joseph135838
Hendricks120478
Hamilton119194
Johnson1125113
Madison60061
Porter56233
Clark53942
Bartholomew53139
LaPorte44824
Howard44236
Tippecanoe4344
Jackson4012
Delaware39741
Shelby39722
Hancock35427
Boone32436
Floyd31941
Vanderburgh2913
Morgan28626
Noble27821
Montgomery24917
Clinton2471
White2399
Decatur23132
Grant22923
Dubois2113
Kosciusko2052
Harrison19622
Marshall1872
Henry18512
Vigo1828
Greene17226
Dearborn17122
Monroe17113
Lawrence17124
Warrick16729
Miami1461
Putnam1427
Jennings1324
Orange13122
LaGrange1282
Scott1263
Franklin1168
Ripley1086
Daviess10416
Carroll952
Wayne906
Steuben902
Wabash812
Newton8010
Fayette797
Jasper741
Jay580
Clay533
Randolph523
Rush513
Fulton511
Washington501
Pulaski500
Jefferson491
Whitley453
DeKalb451
Starke423
Perry390
Huntington382
Sullivan371
Wells350
Owen341
Brown331
Benton320
Knox310
Blackford272
Tipton261
Crawford250
Adams231
Switzerland220
Spencer221
Fountain222
Gibson202
Parke180
Posey160
Martin140
Warren131
Ohio130
Vermillion100
Union100
Pike60
Unassigned0180

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 125915

Reported Deaths: 5795
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook813443880
Lake8647334
DuPage7997394
Kane6672205
Will5799285
Winnebago246566
McHenry167779
St. Clair126292
Kankakee98954
Kendall83919
Rock Island70325
Champaign6777
Madison62465
Boone49817
DeKalb4508
Sangamon36029
Peoria30111
Jackson30010
Randolph2734
McLean22613
Ogle2253
Stephenson2115
Macon20020
Clinton19017
Union17114
LaSalle16016
Whiteside14913
Coles13817
Iroquois1355
Warren1220
Out of IL1161
Grundy1112
Knox1020
Jefferson10116
Monroe10012
McDonough9113
Unassigned900
Lee821
Tazewell815
Cass760
Williamson753
Henry700
Pulaski580
Marion520
Jasper467
Macoupin462
Adams441
Morgan421
Perry420
Vermilion421
Montgomery411
Livingston362
Christian354
Jo Daviess321
Douglas280
Jersey241
Menard220
Bureau211
Fayette213
Ford211
Woodford212
Washington190
Mason180
Mercer180
Carroll172
Hancock171
Shelby161
Alexander140
Schuyler130
Bond121
Franklin120
Fulton120
Moultrie120
Clark110
Crawford110
Johnson110
Logan110
Piatt110
Brown100
Cumberland100
Wayne91
Effingham81
Henderson80
Massac70
Saline70
Greene60
Wabash60
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland40
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
White20
Calhoun10
Edgar10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
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