Hoosier Lawmakers to vote on state's new education budget

The budget would add more than $700 million to education spending over the next two years.

Posted: Apr 24, 2019 6:12 PM
Updated: Apr 24, 2019 6:16 PM

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WLFI) - Hoosier lawmakers are scheduled to vote on a historic increase in education funding Wednesday evening.

The state's new budget would add more than $700 million in education funding.

Teachers unions may be disappointed in this year's budget. It boosts state funding on education by two-and-a-half percent in each of the next two years, but that won't be going to teacher salaries.

The budget would add more than $700 million to education spending over the next two years.

State Representative Sheila Klinker was happy to see that more than $500 million will go to K-12 funding.

"It means a lot to many of us and we are very pleased that the governor and others moved in that direction,” said Klinker.

The budget would increase school funding by around 2.5% each year for the next two budget years.

But the increase still falls short of the 9% increase education advocacy groups estimate is needed to boost the state's average teacher pay to the midpoint of surrounding states.

"Indiana is one the lowest states in our region that is receiving dollar amounts that are not comparable with other states surrounding us,” said Klinker.

Klinker believed 2.5% isn't enough to get teachers the salary increase they have been asking for.

"It's a beginning and we're hoping that it did draw enough attention that people will continue to work on that issue,” she said.

Local school leaders like West Lafayette School Superintendent Rocky Killion believe teachers deserve the raise.

"We deeply appreciate all that they do for our kids. They're the real heroes of public education and the state of Indiana,” said Killion.

The budget would also use state reserves to pay off $150 million in teacher pensions. This could save schools around $70 million per year.

But Killion said only certain schools would see benefits. A lot of a school's funding comes from growth.

“If you have an enrollment increase next year, you're going to get extra money. If you don't, you're not. It's like going to a household and saying 'Okay. You have one child. If you want a raise, you need to have two children,'” said Killion.

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