We are quickly approaching the end of session and we are optimistic that we will accomplish our goals to strengthen Indiana by promoting job creation and expanding educational opportunities. Bills from the House and Senate are making progress including one of my bills, House Bill 1007. HB 1007 is going to help create jobs in Indiana by giving communities the necessary tools they need to attract new business. Specifically, HB 1007 will create new tax abatement schedules and allow rebating of local option income taxes to help attract new companies or help existing companies grow. HB 1007 has passed the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee by a vote of 8-4 and will now move onto the full Senate for consideration.
In a press conference held this Friday Governor Mitch Daniels, Senate President Pro Tempore David Long (R-Fort Wayne) and Speaker of the House Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) announced that revenue forecasts for the past several months have continued to show increased numbers. This is great news for Hoosier children and we will be using an additional $150 million and direct it towards education including the extension of full-day kindergarten across the entire state.
Full-day kindergarten has been shown to have a significant impact on a child's education. Full-day kindergarten programs allow for more appropriate challenges for children at all developmental levels, and most importantly teachers report considerably greater progress for full-day kindergarten children in literacy, math, general learning skills and social skills.
With this announcement it is clear that Indiana is leading the way out of the recession across the nation. Education makes up over 50 percent of the state's budget, and a portion of K-12 education was cut in the 2009 fiscal year due to fiscal revenue being severely low. But while many other states have had to continue to continue to make dramatic cuts to education funding, Indiana will carefully begin to increase funding.
We are continuing to fulfill our promise for budget integrity and some of the money will remain in our fiscal reserves. With the proposed budget we would have a 4.5% reserve, and ideally, as a good business practice, we should keep at least 5% in our reserves. The increased revenues will help us reach that goal more quickly than expected.
Finally, the General Assembly's Budget Committee announced that Vincennes University (VU) has been granted approval to construct a $12 million Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Technology at the Jasper Campus. The two-story building will include at least six large group areas, 14 classrooms, lounges, an auditorium, conference rooms, and office space. This will be a wonderful addition to the campus and I am very happy that the General Assembly can help provide the resources to start this project. VU is a great asset to our community and I look forward to the benefits this building will provide to their students, faculty, staff and our community.
We are quickly approaching our April 29th deadline to finish the legislative session but I welcome and greatly appreciate your continued feedback.
Rep. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper)