This week a budget for fiscal years 2012-2013 was signed into law by the governor. I heard from many of you during session about concerns and questions you had about funding for various programs in the budget. I have good news for all of the programs I heard about most frequently including: the new Jasper Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Technology at Vincennes University, the CHOICE Program, the Southern Indiana Purdue Agricultural Center, and a Medicaid waiver program.
The State Budget Agency approved $8 million to go to VU to construct the Jasper Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Technology. The total cost of the project will be approximately $12 million. The project is aimed to enhance the ability to serve as a technical and specialized training center for southwestern, south-central and southeastern Indiana.
The State Budget Agency heard from many local business leaders and they assured them that they had a local interest and commitment to support this project. VU also had to provide the types of programs they would offer once the project is done.
The center will be a wonderful addition to the campus and I am pleased that the funds will be able to provide the resources for this project. The advanced manufacturing and technology programs the building will help provide in Jasper will be a great boost to the economy and draw students and more businesses to the area. VU is a great asset to our community and I look forward to the benefits this building will provide to their students, faculty and staff and also the community.
The CHOICE (Community and Home Options to Institutional Care for the Elderly and Disabled) Program is a resource that eligible individuals are using to receive support services in their homes. Services provided may include case management, transportation, attendant care, home delivered meals, homemaker services, various therapies provided in the home, respite care, access to adult day programs in the community, medical supplies and other services necessary to prevent residential placement into nursing homes, group homes, state hospitals and other large group living facilities.
The program serves those who are 60 years of age or older, and persons with disabilities of all ages who are eligible due to long term or life-long limitations. The program is available regardless of income, but there is a basic fee or cost share for services based on a sliding scale. If you are interested in more information about and/or applying for CHOICE, or any of the other IN-Home Services (including Medicaid Waivers), please contact the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) Office for your county or the state office at 1-800-986-3505.
I'm pleased to report we were able to restore funding to the CHOICE program in the next budget; something that many people in the area with disabled children or parents were hoping for.
The Southern Indiana Purdue Agricultural Center (SIPAC) is an excellent resource for Hoosier farmers and our economy. They help provide many services including a disease diagnostic lab for poultry and livestock in our local communities, conduct multiple studies on food for livestock, producing crops and forest management.
I am very pleased that we were also able to restore funding to SIPAC for the next two fiscal years.
The last program I had many questions about over session was a Medicaid Waiver Program in Indiana that targets specific groups, specifically there are five.Waiver services allow members to live in a community setting and avoid institutional placement. Those eligible must meet Medicaid guidelines and include two programs that assist individuals who meet nursing facility level of care: the aged and disabled waiver, and the traumatic brain injury waiver. The three additional programs assist those who meet intermediate care facility for the mentally retarded level of care: the autism waiver, the developmental disabilities waiver, and the support services waiver.
If you would like more information you may visitwww.in.gov/fssa and click Medicaid Waivers or call (317) 233-4454.
We were also able to restore funding for this program that is another great help to many families in our communities.
Towards the end of session the Governor, Speaker of the House Brian Bosma and the Senate Pro Temp David Long made a joint announcement stating that they will increase funding to K-12 education by $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 make dramatic cuts to education funding, Indiana has carefully begun to increase funding. This was a great announcement for Hoosier children and families.
I hope you are enjoying the beautiful warm weather. Thank you for your continued feedback and support.