STATEHOUSE - Despite numerous compromises, Republican principles remain at the core of the newly adopted state budget, making it a pro-taxpayer, pro-education reform measure, state Rep. Dick Dodge (R-Pleasant Lake) said today.
The House of Representatives approved the conference committee report on a two-year $27.9 billion budget today by a vote of 62-37, with all House Republicans supporting it. The Senate, by a 34-16 vote, approved the budget today as well.
"I am pleased with the outcome of the budget," said Rep. Dick Dodge (R-Pleasant Lake). "During these slow economic times, this is the most practical and safe way to spend the state's money.
"The budget addresses the economic problems we face and provides a two-year plan to keep Hoosiers afloat."
The budget includes Gov. Mitch Daniels' parameters for a budget he would approve:
nIt contains no tax increases.
nIt maintains at least $1 billion in state reserves.
nIt includes cuts for each dollar spent above the governor's recommended amount.
nIt uses one-time federal stimulus money for one-time purposes, including statewide infrastructure projects, university construction projects, some university operating expenses and the final installment of state-funded homestead tax grants. Title I and special education stimulus money will be used for one-time investments to improve facilities, technology and equipment; this would not increase base operating expenses.
nIt does not raid pension funds, trust funds or use other dedicated money for operating purposes.
The new state budget also protects education and advances education reform efforts:
nIt supports K-12 education with an average increase of 1.1 percent in calendar year 2010 and 0.3 percent in calendar year 2011.
nIt fully funds enrollment growth at rapidly-growing schools.
nIt includes an Educational Scholarship Tax Credit, providing hope for low-income students and families to attend the school of their choice.
nIt allows charter school growth by removing Democrat-backed caps, which is critical if Indiana is to be eligible for federal competitive grants under the "Race to the Top" program.
nIt also allows the state Department of Education to create a program for federal matching grants for charter schools and grants charter schools access to state technology funds.
nIt includes enhanced support for Ivy Tech Community College, improving the state's community college network as well as training opportunities for unemployed workers.
"Many states are cutting education," said Rep. Dodge. "Some states have cut education funding up to 20 percent. I am extremely pleased Indiana is able to appropriate more funds to education while avoiding a tax increase.
"The budget will protect Hoosier taxpayers, maintain a healthy level of state reserves, use federal stimulus money for one-time job creation projects and prevent a tax increase in two years.
"It will protect Hoosiers, protect the reserves and maintain the conservative fiscal morals of the state. I hope this will keep Indiana out of a deficit and offer Hoosiers the help they need."
The fiscal year ends today. If legislators had not passed a budget, most state agencies would have shut down Wednesday and most state workers would have been furloughed.