Making education funding a priority number one is a cornerstone of the overall budget. The total school operating funding will increase by $344 million which is a 3.3 percent increase. The money will go towards fully funding the full-day kindergarten grant program in addition to the pre-kindergarten pilot program which will be available for low-income Hoosier families. We have to enable individuals to create their own success story - investing in education means investing in Hoosier students. For higher education, $28.5 million will be allotted for repair and rehabilitation of existing university infrastructures. Scholarships will also be given a top priority so college can become more affordable for students everywhere.
To boost the economy, the budget proposes an investment of an additional $33 million over the next two years into workforce training programs and $23 million to be invested into programs that will stimulate economic innovation. The Indiana Career Council and the Indiana Works Council that were both created during this legislative session will be funded by this budget. Additionally, the Indiana Applied Research Enterprise (IARE) the Governor’s initiative to support collaboration between university and the life sciences industry and bring new products to the market, will receive funding.
Healthy reserves are needed to protect the Indiana taxpayer and essential government services in the event of an economic downturn. As we know all too well, the economy can be a fickle thing. The Committee on Ways and Means has presented a balanced budget that reduces taxpayer-funded debt. With this budget, not only will Indiana maintain its triple-A credit rating score. We are working to make sure that Hoosiers won’t be handed a deficit, but rather an opportunity.