Listen Live

(INDIANAPOLIS) – The money you pay at the pump could end up supporting child welfare under the Senate’s version of the state budget.

Part of the road funding package approved two years ago earmarked sales taxes on gas for roads. But the law includes an escape hatch to claw some of that money back if it’s needed for schools, Medicaid or the Department of Child Services. With Governor Holcomb seeking a $286 million annual increase in DCS’s budget, Senate Republicans turned to that failsafe clause to cover about a fifth of the cost.

House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says he’s concerned about that maneuver. He argues the road funding bill was a promise to Hoosiers that the money would be spent on roads. While he says next week’s revised revenue forecast could change things, he says a large budget request from the administration isn’t what legislators had in mind when they created a “flexibility fund” for some of the sales tax money.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Ryan Mishler (R-Bremen) says DCS already has the authority to tap the fund. He says a decline in caseloads suggests the agency may not need as much money as Holcomb requested, and the agency wouldn’t have to touch the fund at all.

The Senate will vote on the budget Tuesday, setting up eight days of negotiations with the House on a final version.

(Photo: bizoo n/Thinkstock)