Passing an honestly balanced budget

Posted by: Jessica Baker  | Thursday, February 26, 2015

Last week marked the halfway point of the 2015 legislative session, which means that House and Senate bill will switch chambers. Well over 100 bills have passed the House and will now move to the Senate for further consideration. One bill in particular, House Bill 1001, Indiana’s biennial budget, effects each and every Hoosier in the state.

The budget is the most important piece of legislation we will pass this session. It will fund state government for the next two fiscal years. The House budget focuses on three areas: protecting Hoosier taxpayers, investing in education and funding our strategic priorities.

Indiana House Republicans have a proven track record of passing an honestly balanced budget that protects Hoosier taxpayers. Our budget, which passed the House last Tuesday, is structurally balanced in both years of the biennium, and does not rely on tax increases or budgetary gimmicks.

The budget not only protects taxpayers in our state, but also maintains the stable fiscal environment necessary to grow the Hoosier economy. We are focusing on maintaining our healthy reserves in case of an economic downturn. Most of us rely on savings when an emergency happens, and Indiana uses the same principles. These reserves are also critical to maintaining Indiana’s AAA credit rating.

The House budget dedicates more funds than ever to education. We have increased funding by $469 million over the biennium for K-12 education. We have also allocated funds for a $200 tax credit for teachers to purchase classroom supplies. The budget continues to reward outstanding educators by allocating $60 million in teacher performance grants. We have created a substantial increase in the foundation amount, which is the minimum guarantee each school receives per pupil.

In addition to an increased investment in education, we have also doubled funding for domestic violence prevention and treatment. Additionally, we allocated funds for a Safety P.I.N. (Protecting Indiana’s Newborns) Grant Program which aims to reduce and prevent Indiana’s tragically high infant mortality rate.

The budget prioritizes public safety by providing $80 million for investments in local corrections programming and capacity building. There is also a $1 million per year increase for proven juvenile justice reform initiatives and a $500,000 per year increase for probation officer training. We are working diligently to provide locals with the resources they need to create programs that address and reduce recidivism.

The House budget covers many more items than the few I have highlighted here. For more information about HB 1001, visit iga.in.gov. The bill now heads to the Senate for their consideration.

I will continue to update you as the bills move through the legislative process. I appreciate your feedback and welcome your thoughts and concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact me at h76@iga.in.gov or (317) 232-9816.

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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.