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Indiana governor poised to discuss teacher pay in speech

Holcomb

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is expected to talk during his annual State of the State speech Tuesday about a possible additional boost in school funding — just not one that would happen this year.

Posted: Jan 14, 2020 9:16 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is expected to talk during his annual State of the State speech Tuesday about a possible additional boost in school funding — just not one that would happen this year.

Holcomb is set to speak at 7 p.m. before a joint session of the Indiana House and Senate, nearly two months after several thousand teachers joined a boisterous Statehouse rally calling for better pay and more respect from the Republican-dominated state government.

The governor and other top state officials haven’t given any details of what he might propose, however Holcomb told reporters last week to “stay tuned” for his speech after being asked whether teacher pay action was possible with state tax revenues growing faster than expected.

Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said he has discussed that plan with Holcomb and that it would “free up resources” in future years.

“The governor’s proposal is going to be outside of this budget year,” Bosma said. “He’s going to propose a future resolution.”

Holcomb and GOP legislative leaders have repeatedly defended the 2.5% per-year school funding 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 is written in 2021.

Holcomb said for several weeks that he would wait for recommendations later this year from a teacher pay commission he appointed in February until his comment last week as the 2020 legislative session began.

House Republicans unanimously rejected proposals from Democrats last week for immediate action on teacher pay, including one that would have directed $291 million in unexpected state tax revenue toward one-time teacher pay bonuses. Republicans, instead, have fast-tracked a plan supported by Holcomb directing that money toward paying cash rather than borrowing money for several planned college campus construction projects.

Senate Democratic leader Tim Lanane of Anderson said more action “needs to be done and could be done” on issues such as the state’s lagging teacher pay and rising health care costs before the legislative session wraps up in mid-March.

“I’d like to see (Holcomb) put something on the table that we can act on this session that will actually result in pay increases for the teachers,” Lanane said. “He says he has a surprise. I’m hoping he will surprise me.”

Legislators are already advancing bills on a Holcomb-backed proposal that would toughen the penalties for stores caught selling tobacco products to underaged customers as they raise the state’s minimum age for smoking and vaping from 18 to 21 to conform with a new federal law.

But they haven’t yet taken up Holcomb’s request for a statewide ban on drivers using handheld cellphones as is already illegal in at least 20 other states, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Indiana currently prohibits texting while driving, but officials say that law has proven unenforceable.

Bosma said he wasn’t sure about whether such a ban could pass this year as some House Republicans didn’t think such regulation is proper for government. Bosma described himself as a “swing vote” because he was concerned about how a police officer could determine how a cellphone was being used.

Holcomb needs to persuade legislators on how the ban would improve safety, Bosma said.

“Road safety is important and we’ve all seen distracted driving, so he’ll have a shot at that,” Bosma said.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 662213

Reported Deaths: 12595
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion907061645
Lake48425878
Allen35861636
Hamilton32099397
St. Joseph29996512
Elkhart25386415
Vanderburgh21247378
Tippecanoe20024201
Johnson16349360
Porter15975270
Hendricks15825300
Clark11965181
Madison11746318
Vigo11612229
Monroe10333161
Delaware9838179
LaPorte9772196
Howard9056197
Kosciusko8562110
Bartholomew7456147
Warrick7416151
Hancock7409131
Floyd7207169
Wayne6633191
Grant6427157
Morgan6092125
Boone609088
Dubois5910111
Dearborn547467
Cass544499
Marshall5425104
Henry542393
Noble509378
Jackson464767
Shelby460690
Lawrence4184112
Gibson401281
Harrison399864
Clinton395853
Montgomery387083
DeKalb385278
Knox357485
Miami357463
Whitley349436
Huntington344476
Steuben338355
Wabash331476
Putnam330559
Ripley327161
Adams323549
Jasper316143
White297352
Jefferson294973
Daviess285396
Fayette271956
Decatur270888
Greene261280
Posey260931
Wells258275
Scott250350
Clay241444
LaGrange240870
Randolph225576
Spencer217330
Jennings215244
Washington211227
Sullivan203439
Fountain201542
Starke188151
Owen182153
Fulton178237
Jay177828
Carroll176518
Perry173235
Orange171250
Rush164822
Vermillion160542
Franklin159435
Tipton146441
Parke139316
Pike127632
Blackford120627
Pulaski106444
Newton96531
Brown95039
Benton92013
Crawford90713
Martin80114
Warren75814
Switzerland7548
Union67110
Ohio53711
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