The 2015 legislative session has officially kicked off, and this year, my priority will be passing an honestly balanced budget with no tax hikes. From the first fall of the Speaker’s gavel this session, as a member of the Ways and Means Committee, I have been in and out of meetings discussing our state’s finances.
The budget bill, House Bill 1001, is the most important piece of legislation the General Assembly will work on this session. It ensures the state can continue to operate for another two years and provides the funding mechanism for many bills being discussed. As the budget moves forward through the process, I look forward to working with my colleagues to make strategic investments, particularly in education, while living within our means.
Right now, over half of the state’s budget goes towards K-12 education, almost two-thirds if you include higher education, but there are some discrepancies on how schools are funded through the funding formula. With a 40 percent difference, roughly $3,203, between the highest per-student funding level and the lowest per-student funding level, fixing this formula is imperative to ensure more equity in spending.
Rural and suburban schools, generally, receive less money than urban schools. This is an issue that directly impacts our community, and I believe fixing the formula will not only benefit students, teachers and parents in our district, but across the state the state as well.
In addition to my work on Ways and Means, I will also be serving as a member on the Public Health Committee. As a pharmacist, I am passionate about addressing issues that are affecting the health of Hoosiers, especially issues that deal with substance abuse and mental health.
Working towards this goal, I authored legislation that would include inpatient substance abuse detoxification treatment as a Medicaid service. Another bill I filed would allow a certified community mental health center to apply to manage an opioid treatment program. Unfortunately, substance abuse continues to be a problem that many Hoosiers are facing, and it is my hope that by helping health centers offer treatment, individuals struggling with this issue can find the help they need.
As always, my top priority is to listen to your thoughts and opinions to make decisions that improve our community. That is why, if you have not done so already, I encourage you to fill out my 2015 legislative survey and mail it back to me. My survey can also be found online by going to my website at www.indianahouserepublicans.com. The responses you submit are incredibly valuable to me as I serve our community at the Statehouse.
In the coming months, I will continue to work on legislation and advocate for measures that strengthen our state’s education system and boost the economy. Please feel free to contact my office by phone at 1-800-383-9841 or email at email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you.