The legislative session has come to an end, and I am proud of all that was accomplished to benefit Hoosier families. However, one of our greatest achievements this session was passing our state’s biennial budget. Every two years, the Legislature is given the task of reviewing our state’s finances and crafting a budget. For the House Republicans, our goal was to pass an honestly balanced budget, without increasing taxes on hardworking, while making strategic investments to areas like education and public safety as well. I am proud we were able to deliver on these promises.
As Vice Chair of the Public Health Committee, a main focus of mine, as well as our caucus, was to address some of the public safety concerns impacting Hoosier communities. I authored legislation, which was later incorporated into the budget, to double funding for domestic violence prevention and treatment to $5 million per year. This legislation also provided language that allowed a $1 million appropriation to be made to the Sexual Assault Victims Assistance Account.
In an effort to tackle infant mortality, the budget also provides $13.5 million for the Safety P.I.N. (Protecting Indiana’s Newborns) grant program. As the fifth worst state in the nation for infant mortality, this legislation will allow groups to incorporate their solutions and partner together to address this issue on a regional basis.
Another public safety initiative was adding domestic violence and infant mortality to the list of issues for which Indiana’s Helpline, dialing code 2-1-1, must provide information and assistance on. In the past, this helpline was funded only through donations, but the new budget has appropriated $1 million per year to help the operation.
Along with public safety, we also focused on education this session. While living within our means, the state budget provides the largest increase to K-12 education in state history; up $474 million or 4.8 percent from the previous budget. For the first time in Indiana, the House Republicans championed legislation that provides teachers up to a $100 tax credit that spend money out of pocket to purchase classroom supplies.
We were also able to increase the foundation level, which is like the minimum guarantee that each school receives per pupil, by over $500 to benefit all students. By reworking the funding formula, we were able to make sure that money follows the child and goes into the classroom, rather than to overhead expenses.
This session, I worked diligently to serve our community and support legislation that benefits our great state. The budget we passed demonstrates our commitment to Hoosier taxpayers, students and families. Throughout the year, I encourage you to continue to contact me with your questions or concerns by calling 317-232-9793 or emailing email@example.com.
Rep. Kirchhofer represents portions of Perry, Franklin and Warren Townships in Marion County.