STATEHOUSE – Indiana’s budget proposal or House Bill (HB) 1001 passed from House with a 67 to 29 vote on Monday and will now go Senate for further consideration. The bill includes many goals such as; Hoosier taxpayer protection, prioritizing education funding, preserving and enhancing vital services and maintaining the stable fiscal environment necessary to grow the Hoosier economy.
The budget bill increases education funds by 3.3 percent or $354 million over the course of two years. The intent of this funding surge is to accommodate necessary instructional initiatives like full-day kindergarten and a pre-K pilot program available to low-income Hoosier families.
“Allotting extra money in our budget toward education is essential. Quality education is the key to our state’s continued success, and I firmly believe that if we invest more into Hoosier instruction, starting school at an early age, we can create an environment that produces leaders in the classroom that will become leaders in life,” said State Rep. Tom Dermody (R-LaPorte).
Another education initiative appropriated in the budget includes funding for the Indiana Career Council (ICC) created by House Bill (HB) 1002. The council works to unite Indiana’s fragmented system, share data and coordinate all elements of the state’s workforce development efforts. To accomplish these goals, the council unites key players involved in Indiana’s job training efforts to address the skills gap and opportunity gap.
The budget proposal includes $750 thousand to fund the ICC as well as Indiana’s Workforce Intelligence longitudinal data system. This system is responsible for conducting research to study Indiana’s job skills training system, assessing it and then reporting recommendations to the General Assembly of possible improvements.
“Including funds for the ICC in the budget bill shows just how serious we are about working to bridge the skills gap, and with 2.4 STEM jobs for every unemployed Hoosier, this council is a necessary step toward addressing this issue,” said Rep. Dermody.
A further initiative in the budget is a proposal for additional funding for roads and bridges. This money is raised through taking “off the top” expense away from Motor Vehicle Highway Account (MVHA) and dedicating 20 percent of the State gas tax to the MVHA. Together these proposals permanently increase the infrastructure funding by $250 million per year. The state and local split of this money would be approximately 53 to 47 percent.
“I am grateful that we are putting extra money towards infrastructure in our state including LaPorte and Starke counties, said Rep Dermody. “In light of our state being ‘The Crossroad of America,’ it is important that we maintain and repair our roads in order to make our state’s atmosphere more job friendly and safe to travel in.”