INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WLFI)-The 2021 legislative session ends this month with means a state budget will soon be passed. On Tuesday the state budget passed out of the Senate on its third reading but it wasn't without controversy. 50 percent of the state's budget goes to funding education. However, Democrats are arguing too much of the budget is going to fund vouchers and school choice programs. The debate over this topic took almost two hours.
The state budget how it is written now allows a family of four who makes $95,000 a year to qualify for vouchers. Several lawmakers feel that the salary threshold is too high. Many Democrats would like to see that salary cap significantly lowered. In the House version of the budget that salary cap was set at $150,000 thousand a year. Senator Ron Alting Doesn't agree with either of those numbers.
"I do think 95,000 is too high I did not agree with that number whatsoever. If anything it should just be left where it is in the present law, " said Senator Ron Alting a Republican representing District 22.
Currently, the law reads that a family of four can qualify for a voucher program if they make just over $71,000 a year. Alting says while there are problems with the budget there are some bright spots.
"We increase over the next two years special education by 21 percent we are putting 1.4 billion dollars in special education," said Senator Alting.
The budget also includes 150 million dollars for student learning loss and 27.5 million dollars for English language learning programs. House Bill 1001 passed out of the senate 39-10. It now heads back to the house where it will either be consented on meaning the author approves of the changes or dissented on meaning the author does not. If dissented it goes back to a conference commitee. To read the bill in full click here.