The final day of the 2015 legislative session, also known as Sine Die, has passed and legislators are now back in their districts. While most of us will be returning to full-time jobs and look forward to being back home, it was an honor to serve our community and represent your voice at the Statehouse. We accomplished a lot in the House this session, but I wanted to highlight the most important bill I worked on as a freshman legislator —our state budget.
This session, House Republicans made a commitment to pass an honestly balanced budget that protects Hoosier taxpayers while continuing to invest in and improve the quality of our state’s education system. As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, I was eager to work with my fellow committee members towards this goal, and I am pleased to say we delivered on our promises.
One of our top priorities was to strengthen our investment in education and our state budget reflects that. We allocated over $16 billion to K-12 education, which is up $474 million from the previous budget and is the largest increase in state history. We also raised the foundation level, which is the base amount that each school receives per student, by nearly 11 percent over the biennium.
Additionally, we showed our commitment to supporting hardworking Hoosier teachers. For the first time in Indiana, we are providing a $100 tax credit for teachers who spend their own money on classroom supplies. The budget also includes a $70 million appropriation which will be given as performance bonuses to reward teachers who are rated as effective or highly effective. Over the next two years, the budget also dedicates $10 million to recruit STEM teachers.
The House Republicans have a proven track record of fiscal integrity, and by managing our finances responsibly, we were able to accomplish many of the priorities outlined in our legislative agenda. I was proud to continue that legacy. The budget is structurally balanced and maintains a healthy surplus and strong reserves, which will protect our state in the event of another economic downturn. It also allows us to maintain Indiana’s triple-A credit rating, providing a financial cushion for schools, local governments and state entities to borrow money for less.
Reflecting on my first session, I am thankful for the support my family and community have provided me as well as the opportunity to serve on the Ways and Means Committee, where I am able to use my experience as a business owner to build upon our state’s fiscal foundation.
We passed a lot of bills out of the General Assembly this session, many of which will have a positive impact on southwest Indiana. I encourage you to continue contacting me with your thoughts and concerns regarding the budget or other issues affecting our community and state. I can be reached at 317-234-9447 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rep. Braun (R-Jasper) represents portions of Daviess, Dubois, Pike and Martin Counties. He serves on the Roads and Transportation Committee and Ways and Means Committee.