INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is proposing a modest increase in school funding
that is unlikely to provide much of an immediate boost for teacher pay.
governor and GOP legislative leaders have stressed the importance of finding
ways to address Indiana’s lagging teacher salaries, but Holcomb’s $33
billion, two-year budget proposal released Thursday recommends a 2 percent
increase for public schools each year.
analysts project tax revenues will grow by about 2.5 percent both budget
years. Holcomb proposes much of that money go toward allowing the state’s
troubled Department of Child Services to keep hundreds of new caseworkers
added over the last few years and an expected jump in state costs for the
Medicaid program for low-income families.
State funding makes
up the bulk of money that school districts have available to not only pay
teachers, but also provide support staffers, maintain buildings, purchase
supplies and provide transportation.
The proposed state
funding increase of about $430 million over two years won’t be required to
go toward teacher pay, which remains a decision for local school boards,
said Micah Vincent, director of the state Office of Management and Budget.
“As they work with
their teachers, we would be hopeful and expect that we will see increases to
teachers through that,” Vincent told legislators on the State Budget
Indiana ranked 31st
among the 50 states in teacher pay during 2016, with average salaries of
$50,715, according to the National Education Association. That’s lower than
the five nearby states that the Holcomb administration wants to compare
Indiana with - Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Sen. Karen Tallian
of Portage, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, faulted
Holcomb’s school funding proposal for falling below both the expected growth
of state revenue and the national inflation rate of 2.2 percent over the
“We’ve been calling
for teacher pay increases, we all know that we need them,” Tallian said.
“This budget doesn’t do anything to get there.”
Holcomb and fellow
Republicans want to protect the state’s $1.8 billion budget surplus, which
they say preserves Indiana’s top credit rating and is insurance against a
proposal would leave about $400 million in expected revenue available for
the Republican-dominated Legislature to consider spending in the new budget
that they have until late April to approve.
that the money could go toward teacher pay, saying “They’re yelping that
there’s not enough money but there is.”
an education lobbyist and executive director of the Indiana Association of
School Business Officials, said Holcomb’s proposal is a good start but that
education funding has lagged behind inflation in recent years, including the
current two-year budget’s annual increases of less than 2 percent.
Costerison said all
school officials support increasing teacher pay, but there are other growing
expenses as well.
“We need to keep
the buildings safe, need to pay our utilities, we need to do all the things
from the standpoint of running the operation,” he said.
maintains a $286 million, or about 40 percent, increase to the Department of
Child Services that his administration transferred to the agency last year
amid complaints about it being unable to handle a jump in the number of
abused or neglected children cases. The agency, however, wouldn’t see any
additional increases the next two years.