As you turn on the local news you may hear discussion about our state’s budget. As a father of four boys in Junior High and High School, I have come to realize how important this bill is to our educational system. Did you know that over 50 percent of our state’s budget is spent on K-12 Education? Without the state passing a budget, we would be forced to live off of our state’s reserves – or savings account – which we would only be able to do for a little over a month.
Our state’s budget is integral to our state being able to function. One of the tenets of the House Republicans is to always focus on fiscal integrity to protect taxpayers, like you. The budget protects tax payers from tax increases and also works to protect Indiana’s fiscal credibility on a federal level. This protection is important so we can allocate money where it is most needed.
Our proposed budget includes the largest amount ever spent on K-12 education in the history of Indiana. Additionally, it increases the per student foundation amount that every school receives; essentially reducing the gap in per pupil funding between the highest and lowest funded schools by 51 percent. This means that some of the schools in our community like Perry Central Elementary and Crawford County School Corporation are getting up to a 14 percent increase on per student funding. This is a big win for our students. If you would like to view a copy of the school funding formula document, please visit www.IndianaHouseRepublicans.com.
While education is the core of this session, public safety is another priority for House Republicans and the budget echoes that. There is over $80 million invested to support local corrections programs and capacity building. In addition, the budget allows for double the funding for domestic violence prevention and treatment from $2.5 million per year to $5 million per year. It also dedicates $13.5 million, over the biennium, for the Protecting Indiana’s Newborns (Safety PIN) grant program which works to reduce the infant mortality rates in Indiana. These bills target the public safety issues that are present in Indiana and work towards making our communities a better place to live and raise a family.
When crafting the budget, we always plan for the future and work to invest in Indiana’s economic growth. Tourism supports a large number of jobs here and is the sixth-largest industry in Indiana; the proposed budget doubles the funding that allows for tourism promotion. This session, I authored legislation that works to increase that tourism. House Bill 1206 requires that Wyandotte Cave, one of the largest caves in the state, to re-open to the general public during the summer months. I hope that with this legislation, we can promote economic growth and bring more tourism to Southern Indiana while restoring a national landmark.
There are many more bills passing through the House and the Senate that are working to make a positive impact on Indiana and with half of session under our belt, there is so much more that can still be accomplished. To learn more about 2015 legislation please visit www.iga.in.gov. As always, please feel free to contact me with any concerns or issues that you may have through my office at (317) 232-9815 or through email at email@example.com.