This week marks the mid-point of the 2013 legislative session. One of the most important pieces of legislation I have had the opportunity to vote on is House Bill 1001, more commonly known as Indiana’s Biennial budget. As I’ve said in many past reports, the passing of a balanced budget is an issue that I take very seriously. I am proud to say that HB 1001 passed on Feb. 24 with a 68-28 vote. For Indiana to continue to succeed we must eliminate wasteful government spending. I am proud of the budget as it addresses issues that are top priority to the state.
Investing in education was the first priority in the budget in regards to both K-12 and higher education. The total school operating funding will increase 3.3 percent or 354 million dollars. The money will go towards supporting tuition for full day kindergarten, programs such as dropout prevention and assistance for in-demand teachers will also receive additional funding. Additional funding to the tune of 40 million dollars in will also be given to the Department of Child Services to better assist young Hoosiers facing vulnerable life situations.
Building and maintaining a strong infrastructure is top priority in the Indiana budget. We can’t be the “Crossroads of America” with a crumbling infrastructure. With an increase in funding by $140 million per year, the budget dedicates 20 percent of the state sales tax on gas to go to the Motor Vehicle Highway Account (MVHA). Together these proposals will permanently increase road and bridge funding by $250 million per year.
The budget also looks out for Hoosier taxpayers. By accelerating the elimination of the Inheritance Tax (Death Tax) phase out, nearly $300 million will be saved over the next two years. Speeding up the elimination of the death tax will help keep more farms and small family businesses in the hands of Hoosiers and will encourage more Hoosiers to stay in Indiana after retirement.
It is important to prepare for the future. With goals such as remaining fiscally responsible to the taxpayers of Indiana, Hoosiers will continue to live within their means, prioritize education funding, preserve and enhance vital services, and maintain the stable fiscal environment necessary to grow the Hoosier economy.
The 2014-2015 budget promises that every dollar spent will be spent with a purpose. Both fiscal years will have a structural balance so spending levels are sustainable for the future. With this budget Indiana will remain one of only nine states to have a triple-A credit rating. Future generations of the state will inherit opportunities and not deficits.
As we continue into the second half of the legislative session, we will consider the 216 bills passed in the Senate, and the Senate will consider the 175 bills that the House has passed. Our priorities remain the same. The Indiana General Assembly is committed to strengthening Indiana by passing a balanced budget, protecting Hoosier taxpayers and improving education for all students. Should you have questions about the budget or any other legislation, please feel free to contact me via email at email@example.com or by phone at (317) 232-9863.