The General Assembly has adjourned for the year putting Indiana in a better position economically. In October, House Republicans laid out our agenda items to increase accountability for all Hoosiers by passing an honestly balanced budget with no tax increases, focusing on education, strengthening our ethics laws and improving public safety. I am proud we were able to accomplish these goals and with just minutes to spare.
As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, a majority of my time this session was spent on reviewing our state’s finances. Working with agencies, constituents and fellow representatives, I am pleased we were able to craft and pass an honestly balanced budget without raising taxes. Our budget also maintains Indiana’s healthy reserves and strong structural surplus, which are both critical to securing our coveted triple-A credit rating. Additionally, the budget ensures our state’s continued economic success by making strategic investments in our future, chiefly education.
This legislative session was deemed an ‘education session’. We know that a high quality education system is critical to our future, and as legislators, our focus was to put more dollars in the classroom and support Indiana’s hardworking teachers. I am pleased our budget reflects that priority. Dedicating nearly two-thirds to education, our budget contains the largest increase to K-12 education funding in state history. Also, for the first time in Indiana, we were able to include a $100 tax credit for teachers who purchase their own classroom supplies.
While education was a top priority, we also focused on public safety, particularly the issues of domestic violence and infant mortality. Included in the budget, we dedicated $10 million for domestic violence prevention and treatment. While funding will be critical, the House went a step further this session by taking immediate action against domestic violence. Each year, the Indiana House chooses a cause to raise money and awareness for, and with public safety one of our top priorities, we selected domestic violence. We collected donations for shelters throughout session and volunteered at the Julian Center, a shelter in Indianapolis.
The budget also includes $13.5 million to fund the Safety P.I.N (Protecting Indiana’s Newborns) grant program in an effort to reduce Indiana’s staggering infant mortality rate. Under Safety P.I.N., local health providers will now be able to apply for grants and incorporate their innovative solutions to target at-risk communities. By addressing some of the leading causes of infant mortality, such as lack of prenatal care or smoking during pregnancy, this is a positive and unique program that will effectively reduce Indiana’s high infant mortality rate.
Along the lines of public safety, we also worked to reduce recidivism in our state. The Criminal Law and Sentencing Study Committee found that the majority of individuals who recommit crimes are low-level offenders struggling with addiction and that incarceration alone does not address some of those mental or behavioral health issues – thus the cycle continues. In an effort to lower these rates and get individuals battling addiction the help they need, our budget dedicates $59 million of new money for investments in community corrections programming and capacity building.
This session has held many great discussions and improvements for Hoosiers, and it was an honor to represent House District 73. I appreciate your thoughts and opinions on issues affecting our community and state so feel free to contact me by phone at 1-800-383-9841 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rep. Davisson represents all of Washington County and portions of Orange, Lawrence, Jackson, Clark and Harrison Counties.