Friday morning Gov. Mitch Daniels, House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President David Long announced that because of increased state revenue an additional $150 million will be spent on K-12 education, a portion of which will be used for the extended funding of statewide full-day kindergarten.
Full-day kindergarten has resulted in students improving performance in literacy, math, general learning skills and social skills, according to recent studies.
As a former kindergarten teacher, I was pleased to hear the full-day kindergarten announcement. I understand the importance of these developmental years in a child's life.
The announcement came in conjunction with the Revenue Forecast Technical Committee meeting Friday. This month's revenue report showed higher than forecasted numbers, which is a positive sign of economic growth in Indiana. The forecasted numbers were updated in December of last year.
As a member of the House Ways and Means committee, myself and my fellow representatives passed House Bill 1001 in March that would have kept K-12 funding at its current level. This was based on the December Budget Revenue forecasts.
In a press conference, Speaker Bosma stated that, "Our first priority was budget integrity and adopting a responsible budget without increasing taxes on Hoosier families. Investing in K-12 education, especially early education opportunities have always been our caucus' next most important goal. I am pleased that we are able to direct $150 million into education including the extension of full-day kindergarten to every five-year-old in the state."
The $150 million increase to educational funding comes after 15 states earlier this year proposed cuts to their education funding. Among these states, Ohio is proposing a 10 percent cut to education and Wisconsin has proposed a 19 percent cut.
In order for these education funding increases to be added to the state budget, House Bill 1001, it must be approved in both the Indiana House and Indiana Senate. The budget bill is currently being discussed in the Indiana Senate and would have to be amended to include the additional $150 million.
Funding for full-day kindergarten is a bipartisan education issue that I have seen both Republican and Democratic state representatives express support for on the House floor throughout this legislative session.
State Rep. Phyllis Pond (R-New Haven) represents portions of Allen and DeKalb counties.