[r82] Chairman Espich makes progress in Senate Committee (3/23/2011)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Start Date: 3/23/2011 All Day
End Date: 3/23/2011

STATEHOUSE-Chairman Jeff Espich (R-Uniondale) presented the state budget bill, or House Bill 1001, today in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

During today's presentation, state senators were able to ask Chairman Espich and Rep. Jeff Thompson (R-Linton) questions regarding different aspects of the Chairman's proposed budget.

"The majority of questions asked in today's committee hearing dealt with the education funding formula aspect of the state budget," said Chairman Espich, "which wasn't a surprise since education has been the leading topic this session."

Education funding makes up more than half of the total state budget and preserves current statewide tuition support funding for K-12 schools in 2012 and 2013. In addition, the proposed budget would fund Department of Education's grant programs that are related to student instruction, including full day kindergarten and textbook reimbursements.

The budget proposal would eliminate extra grants for small schools, restoration grants and would pay schools for students who are actually enrolled.

"We have pushed for years to even out the disparities between schools that get too much per-pupil funding and the schools that get too low of an amount," said Chairman Espich. "The money needs to follow the student by reflecting enrollment and not fund an institution.

"The proposed funding formula aims to move each school district toward its target amount of per-pupil funding. Most districts are currently above their target amounts."

The state budget proposal originally passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee, but due to the House Democrat walkout, it failed to receive a House floor hearing.

Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) announced last Thursday that House Republicans would be working in a bipartisan effort with Senate committee members to continue the legislative process.

Today was the first of several meetings scheduled for this week to discuss the state budget in which Chairman Espich and other Ways and Means members will be contributing.