2015 Budget: Focusing on Education

Posted by: Jessica Baker  | Thursday, December 11, 2014

As an educator, I know firsthand what teachers face in the classroom. Whether that is daily lesson planning, analyzing data, finding new creative ways to keep children excited about learning or dipping into your own wallet to purchase classroom supplies. Improving the quality of education in Indiana continues to be a top priority for the House Republicans.

Every two years, the Indiana General Assembly devotes a tremendous amount of time at the Statehouse to crafting a fiscally sound, honestly balanced budget. Over half of our state’s budget is dedicated to funding K-12 education in Indiana.  We realize there is a calling in Indiana to provide a top-notch education for our students, and we have pledged to dedicate much of our time and effort to making sure future Hoosiers have the best platform for learning.

Creating more fairness in the funding formula is one of our top priorities, so that each school across the state has the same access to quality of education. This does not mean we are taking dollars away from the more consolidated school corporations, but rather we are working on increasing the foundation level of education spending so there is a benefit to all schools. The December revenue forecast will help us decide the next step with education funding while also living within our means.

The funding formula is complex, but one thing is certain, it needs to be fixed. Based on the current formula there is a major disparity between the per student dollar amounts that schools across the state receive. We will work to lessen that gap, ensure more fairness in funding and consider ways we can raise the foundation level of education spending in order to benefit Hoosier students across the state.

Addressing these concerns in education will allow us to continue to make Indiana the best place for our young Hoosiers to receive an education that will help them compete in a globally dynamic marketplace.

Another priority, which I have mentioned in a previous column, is providing our teachers that spend their own money on school supplies with a state tax credit. According to a recent study by SheerID, a leading teacher verification provider, and Agile Education marketing, in 2013, teachers across the U.S. spent on average $513 out-of-pocket on classroom supplies like instructional materials, professional development or books for their classrooms. Although the  amount of the tax credit is still dependent on the December revenue forecast, we must support  the current 55,000 teachers in Indiana that have spent their own money to improve the quality of education for their students.

As session draws near, I look forward to addressing the funding formula as well as other issues impacting Hoosier families. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to email or call my office. Your input is extremely valuable to me during the legislative session, and we need to work together to move our community and state forward.

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Rep. McNamara (R-Mount Vernon) represents portions of Posey and Vanderburgh counties. She serves as the Vice Chair of Courts and Criminal Code Committee and is a member of Government and Regulatory Reform Committee, Judiciary Committee and the Select Committee on Government Reduction Committee.