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Indiana teachers push lawmakers for more money for schools

Some Indiana teachers don't believe the latest Republican-backed state budget plan does enough to support public schools — and legislative leaders are warning that they might even be faced with tightening up that spending proposal.

Posted: Apr 16, 2019 4:48 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Some Indiana teachers don't believe the latest Republican-backed state budget plan does enough to support public schools — and legislative leaders are warning that they might even be faced with tightening up that spending proposal.

Scores of red-wearing teachers spent Tuesday at the Statehouse talking with lawmakers ahead of an afternoon rally calling for additional education money. The rally was coming just hours after the state Senate voted mostly along party lines to advance a budget plan boosting base school funding by 2.7% next school year and 2.2% for the following year.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and GOP legislative leaders have touted the importance of addressing Indiana's lagging teacher salaries, but education advocacy groups estimate a 9% funding increase is needed to boost average teacher pay to the midpoint of Indiana's neighboring states.

"You can say that you want to help us, and we appreciate that. But we are still behind other states and where we were years ago," said Amellia Dusch, a middle school English and social studies teacher in New Albany. "I think there is a lot of lip service."

Senate Republican leaders say that besides the $535 million in additional base school funding over the next two years, their plan would give school districts $30 million more for one-time bonuses to teachers and aims to free up district money by paying off $150 million in future teacher pension obligations.

But Democrats argued those steps were inadequate to give teachers significant pay raises. Senate Republicans rejected Democratic budget proposals aimed at making additional education money available by cutting private school voucher growth and increasing cigarette taxes.

Unrest over teacher pay has roiled legislatures across the country since walkouts began in West Virginia in early 2018. In Kentucky, recurring "sickouts" for teacher protests forced schools to cancel classes earlier this year, and a six-day teacher strike in Los Angeles ended with a 6% pay hike and commitment to smaller classes.

Indiana Republican legislative leaders are warning that cuts might be needed in the $34.6 billion, two-year budget after a new state tax revenue forecast is released Wednesday. Leaders say they expect revenue growth will be less than what economists projected in December.

"I expect there's going to be significantly less funds. I don't know if that's $50 million or $250 million," GOP House Speaker Brian Bosma said. "But it's not going to be more dollars."

Senate and House negotiators face a late April deadline for reaching agreement on a budget plan.

Senate budget writers say they have prepared for the prospect of tighter revenue projections by leaving $2.2 billion, or 12.5% of annual state spending, in cash reserves at the end of the budget in July 2021. That's more than the $1.8 billion, or 11%, proposed by the governor in January.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 662750

Reported Deaths: 12623
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion907691647
Lake48461880
Allen35897638
Hamilton32121398
St. Joseph30032513
Elkhart25403417
Vanderburgh21261379
Tippecanoe20050203
Johnson16362360
Porter15987270
Hendricks15835300
Clark11976181
Madison11756319
Vigo11625230
Monroe10343163
Delaware9842179
LaPorte9778197
Howard9059198
Kosciusko8567111
Bartholomew7464147
Warrick7422151
Hancock7409132
Floyd7217170
Wayne6640192
Grant6432157
Boone610088
Morgan6096125
Dubois5916111
Dearborn548368
Cass545099
Marshall5427104
Henry542593
Noble509778
Jackson465067
Shelby460790
Lawrence4186113
Gibson401381
Harrison400464
Clinton396153
Montgomery387283
DeKalb385878
Miami357563
Knox357485
Whitley349537
Huntington345777
Steuben338855
Wabash331876
Putnam330559
Ripley327162
Adams323549
Jasper316643
White297352
Jefferson295074
Daviess285496
Fayette271956
Decatur270988
Greene261580
Posey261231
Wells258375
Scott250850
Clay241644
LaGrange240970
Randolph225476
Spencer218030
Jennings215344
Washington211627
Sullivan203339
Fountain201642
Starke188251
Owen182353
Fulton179037
Jay177928
Carroll176518
Perry173235
Orange171250
Rush165122
Vermillion160842
Franklin159435
Tipton146741
Parke139316
Pike127832
Blackford120627
Pulaski106644
Newton96532
Brown95139
Benton92213
Crawford90713
Martin80114
Warren75814
Switzerland7548
Union67210
Ohio53711
Unassigned0431

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