STATEHOUSE — The legislative session will draw to a close soon. In fact, lawmakers are expecting to adjourn this year’s session a week early, but not before they address a budget windfall.
The state is expected to bring in $2 billion more over the next two years than originally expected. A majority of lawmakers among both Republicans and Democrats believe that a good chunk of that money should go to Indiana’s schools.
“We have confidence that if we put more dollars towards K-12 that those dollars, like in 2019, will end up in the hands of teachers,” said Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston (R).
Democrats appear to be on the same page.
“That’s a conversation that we’re having right now,” said State Sen Eddie Melton (D-Gary) to WISH-TV. “Myself and my caucus we’re advocating that more new dollars to the K-12 formula.”
That’s in line with an assessment from the governor’s office that more money be put towards schools, according to Melton. He says doing that will in fact allow local school districts to give teachers a pay raise, which had to be put on the back burner in 2020 because of the pandemic.
Melton said that should be the only focus right now when it comes to schools.
“We want to reduce the amount of money that’s issued to other educational reforms,” Melton said. “We know that in the House version they expand it in the vouchers program.”
Republicans are pushing a provision to expand the state’s voucher program to allow families that make higher amounts of money to be eligible for vouchers from the state, which would allow that money to be used for tuition to private schools.
Melton said that takes money away from public schools.