[r13] Funding for our schools is a top priority

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Wednesday, February 20, 2013

STATEHOUSE — The state budget is headed to the House floor after being approved by the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday.

The conservative budget proposal estimates that Indiana will end fiscal year 2014 with just under $1.9 billion in reserves. “Maintaining healthy reserves protects Hoosier taxpayers in the event of unforeseen circumstances that our state may encounter – like the recession,” said State Representative Sharon Negele (R-Attica), a member of the Ways and Means Committee.

In the 2010 budget, many services, state agencies and K-12 schools were drastically cut due to the state being faced with going into the red. This year, the proposed House Republican budget restores those difficult cuts to education.

“The House budget shows the investment that we are making in our students. Education funding is a top priority. By investing in their education now, it will have a positive impact years down the line on their careers, and eventually our economy,” said Rep. Negele. “In addition to education, the budget has an immediate focus on boosting the Hoosier economy, building and maintaining infrastructure and protecting hardworking taxpayers.”

K-12 and higher education funding makes up 58 percent of the proposed budget. Funding for K-12 education alone will increase by $344 million or 3.3 percent over the next two years.

“We are making a significant investment in K-12 funding by restoring the budget to what it was before the economic recession hit,” said Rep. Negele. “Our youngest Hoosiers will benefit from $7 million per year to fund a pre-kindergarten pilot program available to low-income families.”

The budget includes an investment of $5 million over two years in innovative education programs geared toward improving student performance and success. The budget also allots $10 million to place science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teachers in the schools that need them the most.

In addition to investments in education, the House budget also provides sustainable funding for transportation projects. Road and bridge funding will increase by $250 million per year.

“I have seen first-hand the improvements necessary to our local roads,” said Rep. Negele. “It is important that we invest in our state’s infrastructure as a means to continued economic growth.”

“We are still in the early stages of the budget process and will solidify the details after receiving the next revenue forecast in April,” said Rep. Negele. “I am proud of the work we have done, and continue to do, to keep Indiana on a path of economic growth and fiscal integrity.”