Note to the Editor: This is part of a three-part series regarding the bills on the 2015 House Republican Legislative Agenda. This week’s column concentrates on the budget and education.
Every year, my wife Jody and I make goals for our family. Commitment and teamwork is essential to turning our goals into reality; the same can be said about the agenda for this legislative session. The agenda is a compilation of the goals we hope to accomplish by working together for a better, stronger Indiana.
House Republicans have a history of economic responsibility, and this year, we will strive to continue that. Tradition mandates that we craft a budget every two years and like Hoosiers coming up with their family budget around the kitchen table, our budget is crafted in a similar manner. My goal this session is to help pass an honestly balanced budget with no tax increases while maintaining healthy reserves and a strong structural surplus.
Our state finished fiscal year 2014 with $2B in reserve balances, another way of referring to Indiana’s savings account, and although this might sound like a lot of money, it would only run state government for about 48 days. Since Indiana’s biennial budget affects nearly every aspect of our state, it is important that we continue living within our means while making strategic investments to fund our priorities like education.
Almost two-thirds of our budget is dedicated to K-12 and higher education funding. Although we have made great strides to improve the quality of Indiana’s education system, there is still work to be done. One area we are looking at is the school funding formula, which is the formula used to determine how much money goes to schools per-pupil. For fiscal year 2014, the highest per-student funding was nearly 40 percent more than the lowest level. This is something that needs to be fixed to ensure schools across Indiana are receiving those dollars equitably.
Along with fixing the funding formula, teachers need our support as well. I personally know teachers in our community who pay out of pocket to purchase school supplies. That money could be going towards their families, which is something that needs to be addressed. This session, House Bill 1005 would provide each teacher up to a $200 tax credit for purchasing school supplies.
As session moves forward, I will continue to work diligently to best represent you at the Statehouse, and I am confident we will find meaningful solutions to benefit Hoosiers. To learn more about the House Republican agenda, please visit our updated and user-friendly website www.IndianaHouseRepublicans.com. As always, feel free to contact me through my office at 317-232-9815 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next week, for part two of the series, I will be focusing on bills pertaining to public safety.