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Holcomb holding off on Indiana teacher pay, preschool boost

Gov. Eric Holcomb is aiming to preserve Indiana's $1.8 billion state budget surplus over the next two years while not directing more money toward goals of increasing teacher pay or expanding the state-funded preschool program.

Posted: Dec 7, 2018 10:01 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Eric Holcomb is aiming to preserve Indiana's $1.8 billion state budget surplus over the next two years while not directing more money toward goals of increasing teacher pay or expanding the state-funded preschool program.

The Republican governor announced Thursday his agenda priorities for the upcoming legislative session during which lawmakers will debate a new two-year spending plan. Holcomb is seeking state money for a variety of tax breaks for attracting businesses, along with modest boosts in job training and drug-abuse treatment programs.

But education spending makes up more than 60 percent of the state's $16.4 billion budget this year. Holcomb proposes examining over the next two years how best to boost teacher pay, with the goal of making Indiana more competitive with neighboring states.

Republican legislative leaders have said they were working on teacher pay increase options for consideration during the General Assembly session that begins in early January.

Holcomb said he wanted to work with teacher unions and others on a "very thoughtful, methodical" plan for the salary boost — delaying a push for a significant funding increase until the state budget that's adopted in 2021.

"We're losing teachers, we're losing talent to neighboring states because we're competing against them, often times, on salary," he said.

Indiana ranked 31st among the 50 states in teacher pay during 2016, with average salaries of $50,715, according to the National Education Association. That's lower than the five nearby states that the Holcomb administration wants to compare Indiana with — Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Democratic House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta of Fort Wayne said the governor needed to be more aggressive.

"What we do need is bold action from this governor that says we must increase teacher pay right now," GiaQuinta said. "We don't need to study this issue before making a final decision. We need to increase teacher pay."

Holcomb is recommending that the state's the preschool program for poor children remain limited to 20 of Indiana's 92 counties and at its $20 million annual budget. His goal is to then expand the program statewide with the 2021 state budget.

"We'll continue to help other communities scale up, make sure that their child care centers are actually high-quality learning centers so we can grow that program," he said.

Holcomb said that maintaining the state's surplus and AAA credit rating was needed "to make sure that we distinguish ourselves from the rest of the competition."

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Cases: 660071

Reported Deaths: 12531
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion904161633
Lake48298874
Allen35720633
Hamilton31970396
St. Joseph29796510
Elkhart25331412
Vanderburgh21192377
Tippecanoe19927199
Johnson16312356
Porter15917269
Hendricks15785300
Clark11913180
Madison11717315
Vigo11562229
Monroe10300159
Delaware9824179
LaPorte9739196
Howard9038195
Kosciusko8539108
Bartholomew7424147
Hancock7399130
Warrick7399150
Floyd7180167
Wayne6622191
Grant6413157
Boone606888
Morgan6066124
Dubois5890111
Dearborn544466
Cass542899
Marshall5414104
Henry541392
Noble508476
Jackson464165
Shelby459890
Lawrence4174111
Gibson400981
Harrison397863
Clinton394453
Montgomery385083
DeKalb384378
Knox356285
Miami356163
Whitley348435
Huntington341876
Steuben337455
Wabash330576
Putnam328259
Ripley326461
Adams322149
Jasper314843
White297152
Jefferson293773
Daviess285096
Fayette271156
Decatur270188
Greene260780
Posey260431
Wells257174
Scott250050
LaGrange240770
Clay240344
Randolph225376
Spencer216930
Jennings214344
Washington209927
Sullivan202939
Fountain201042
Starke187250
Owen181953
Fulton177937
Jay177528
Carroll176218
Perry173335
Orange170950
Rush164322
Vermillion160141
Franklin159135
Tipton145941
Parke138615
Pike127432
Blackford120527
Pulaski106544
Newton96531
Brown94839
Benton91713
Crawford90313
Martin80114
Warren75312
Switzerland7527
Union66910
Ohio52911
Unassigned0433

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