In a rare joint announcement, House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) along with Senate President Pro Tempore David Long (R-Fort Wayne) and Governor Mitch Daniels announced their support for an additional $150 million investment in K-12 education emphasizing early learning opportunities for Hoosier students.
The announcement came prior to the Revenue Forecast Technical Committee meeting. The updated revenue forecast predicts Indiana will receive more than what was projected under prior forecasts.
"Serving on the House Ways and Means Committee, I see how tight budget restraints are regarding funding and keeping the budget balanced during a troubling economy," said Rep. Rich McClain (R-Logansport) said.
"Saying that, I was pleased to see the revenue forecast this morning that showed how Indiana is back on track with its revenue intake-making it possible to provide additional funding toward educating our young Hoosier students.
"This increase in funding is a result of putting our state to be one of the first to rebound from the current economic conditions. We need to continue to be conscious of our spending," said Rep. McClain.
The increased revenues in addition to prudent reserve balances prove that the disciplined financial efforts by Republicans in the General Assembly and the governor are paying off for the State of Indiana.
Education currently makes-up more than 50 percent of the state's budget, and a portion of K-12 education was cut in 2009 due to fiscal revenue being severely low.
While Indiana carefully begins to increase funding for education, many other states across the nation have had to continue to make dramatic cuts to education funding. In Ohio, South Dakota, Florida and Pennsylvania, funding for K-12 education was cut by 10 percent.
Even though $150 million dollar increase is not fully restoring the cuts that were made, due to the unknown financial climate the Speaker stated there is still a need to be prudent. Education is the only area in the state budget that will now show an increase in funding.
A quarter of the $150 million will be used to complete the extension of full-day kindergarten to every school district in the state. A smaller fund will go toward a "teacher excellence" fund, which will reward teachers through pay-based on performance, not seniority.
"Our Caucus' core value continues to be fiscal integrity. Because of that primary goal we are able to forward our commitment to K-12 education and put an emphasis on early education," said Speaker Bosma.