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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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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 77565

Reported Deaths: 3105
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion16304733
Lake7840283
Elkhart499287
Allen4103164
St. Joseph368183
Hamilton2941104
Vanderburgh208215
Hendricks1972109
Cass18099
Johnson1800119
Porter139139
Clark133350
Tippecanoe126312
Madison104866
LaPorte95730
Howard93865
Kosciusko87212
Bartholomew84447
Floyd83750
Marshall80123
Monroe77732
Delaware76852
Vigo75213
Dubois71812
Noble70829
Boone70446
Hancock69439
Jackson6065
Warrick60030
Shelby57228
LaGrange56910
Grant53230
Dearborn52228
Morgan49235
Henry46020
Clinton4564
Wayne40210
White38011
Montgomery36321
Lawrence35827
Harrison35524
Decatur34732
Putnam3288
Daviess28420
Miami2792
Scott27810
Jasper2592
Greene25634
Franklin24915
Gibson2434
DeKalb2424
Jennings23212
Ripley2208
Steuben2173
Fayette2057
Carroll2033
Perry18813
Posey1810
Starke1817
Orange17924
Wabash1795
Wells1782
Fulton1742
Jefferson1722
Knox1681
Whitley1606
Tipton15416
Sullivan1521
Washington1481
Clay1415
Spencer1393
Randolph1325
Huntington1303
Newton12110
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Rush914
Pulaski841
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Brown752
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Ohio656
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