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Indiana governor changes stance on teacher pay action

Indiana’s governor opened the door Monday to potentially boosting school funding and teacher pay after weeks of refuting any plans on such action until next year.

Posted: Jan 7, 2020 9:29 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s governor opened the door Monday to potentially boosting school funding and teacher pay after weeks of refuting any plans on such action until next year.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb didn’t give any details of what he would propose during his annual State of the State speech next week, while a top legislative Democrat promised his party would push for more school funding in the wake of a November rally that drew several thousand teachers to the Statehouse.

Holcomb and GOP legislative leaders have since repeatedly defended the 2.5% per-year increase included in the two-year state budget approved last spring and maintained that further steps regarding the state’s lagging teacher pay would need to wait until the next state budget it written in 2021.

Holcomb has said he would wait for recommendations later this year from a teacher pay commission he appointed in February, but told reporters Monday that might change with state tax revenues growing faster than expected.

“Stay tuned, you’ll hear more from me at the State of the State address,” Holcomb said.

The top House Republican, Speaker Brian Bosma, downplayed the possible impact of Holcomb’s proposal following the governor’s remarks on the day the GOP-dominated Legislature began its 2020 session that will conclude in early March. Holcomb’s State of the State is set for Jan. 14.

Teacher union leaders and Democratic legislators maintain the state has money to give more to schools now — pointing to about $300 million in unexpected tax revenue that the state collected last budget year and nearly $250 million, or 4%, that’s come in beyond projections since July 1.

House Democratic leader Phil GiaQuinta of Fort Wayne said Monday that Republican-backed “policies are responsible for creating a crisis in public education.”

That includes average Indiana teacher salaries dropping 15 percent since 2000 when adjusted for inflation and about a third of new Indiana teachers leaving their jobs within five years, according to state officials and education advocacy groups.

“Republicans tout the amount in their budget for education but avoid the uncomfortable and tragic truth,” GiaQuinta said. “The budget shortchanges traditional public schools, while diverting millions of dollars to failed for profit and out of state charter and virtual charter schools along with private voucher programs.”

Holcomb wants legislators to direct nearly $300 million of the state’s additional revenue toward paying cash rather than borrowing money for several planned construction projects, such as a new veterinary hospital at Purdue University and building plans at Ball State University, the University of Southern Indiana and Ivy Tech State College in Columbus.

House Republicans are supporting the governor’s request, although they are substituting $62 million for Indiana University building projects rather than Holcomb’s plan of directing $50 million toward replacing a nearly century-old structure at the Indiana State Fairgrounds — a project panned by Democrats as showing greater priority for a swine barn than teacher pay or other neglected needs.

Bosma said the project spending plan would save the state an estimated $137 million in future interest payments and would be a better use of tax revenue the state’s not sure it will continue collecting long term.

Bosma said he spoke with Holcomb about his teacher pay proposal Monday but declined to explain it.

“I don’t think it is going to impact our proposal on how to use the surplus at this point,” Bosma said. “I think it is talking about the future.”

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 667262

Reported Deaths: 12737
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion913541660
Lake48729891
Allen36175646
Hamilton32489398
St. Joseph30361514
Elkhart25536420
Vanderburgh21343382
Tippecanoe20240205
Johnson16485363
Porter16077281
Hendricks15955302
Clark12079182
Madison11810323
Vigo11699234
Monroe10440164
Delaware9899179
LaPorte9838201
Howard9127203
Kosciusko8600111
Bartholomew7531147
Hancock7471134
Warrick7456153
Floyd7269173
Wayne6661192
Grant6465158
Boone618691
Morgan6135129
Dubois5942112
Dearborn551570
Cass5489100
Marshall5456105
Henry544395
Noble513878
Jackson465967
Shelby463591
Lawrence4197113
Gibson405585
Harrison404065
Clinton397653
Montgomery391984
DeKalb388278
Miami358463
Knox357886
Whitley352438
Huntington350877
Steuben340455
Putnam334660
Wabash333976
Ripley328062
Adams326349
Jasper319343
White298553
Jefferson296574
Daviess286196
Fayette272756
Decatur271688
Greene262680
Posey261732
Wells259175
Scott252150
LaGrange242670
Clay241644
Randolph226577
Spencer219630
Jennings216944
Washington213327
Sullivan203839
Fountain202842
Starke190051
Owen184254
Fulton179937
Jay178828
Carroll176919
Perry174136
Orange171451
Rush165722
Vermillion161543
Franklin160135
Tipton150041
Parke140216
Pike128633
Blackford120727
Pulaski107844
Newton96832
Brown95340
Crawford92613
Benton92513
Martin80314
Warren76014
Switzerland7568
Union67510
Ohio54211
Unassigned0427

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