"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" said Speaker Bosma.
The announcement came prior to the Revenue Forecast Technical Committee meeting. The updated revenue forecast predicts that the state will receive more than what was projected under prior forecasts. The increased revenues in addition to prudent reserve balances prove that the disciplined financial efforts by Republicans in the General Assembly and the Governor are paying off for the State of Indiana.
The recession brought Indiana's economy to a screeching halt. The state's budget was cut in order to live within the state's means without raising taxes. Education makes-up over 50 percent of the state's budget, and a portion of K-12 education was cut in 2009 due to fiscal revenue being severely low.
While Indiana carefully begins to increase funding for education, many other states across the nation have had to continue to make dramatic cuts to education funding. In Ohio, South Dakota, Florida and Pennsylvania, K-12 education was cut by 10 percent.
Even though $150 million dollar increase is not fully restoring the cuts that were made, due to the unknown financial climate the Speaker stated there is still a need to be prudent. Education is the only area in the state budget that will now show an increase in funding. About a quarter of the $150 million will be used to complete the extension of full day kindergarten to every school district in the state. A smaller fund will go towards a "teacher excellence" fund which will reward teachers through pay based on performance, not seniority.
"Our Caucus' core value continues to be fiscal integrity. Because of that primary goal we are able to forward our commitment to K-12 education and put an emphasis on early education," said Speaker Bosma.