INDIANAPOLIS—On Wednesday, Statehouse Republicans released their conference committee report for the budget bill, House Bill 1001. The conference committee report included several items that raised concern:
- The expansion of the private school voucher program will cost $500M in taxpayer dollars
- Property tax sharing language to allow charter schools to collect taxes only received by traditional public schools
- Underfunded public health
- $75M for public health in FY24, $150M in FY25
- Underinvesting in mental health
- Only $50M for each year
- No cigarette tax increase
- No 13th check for retirees
- An additional $1.2B dollars appropriated for the IEDC with no additional accountability or transparency
- An unnecessary additional contribution to the pre-1996 fund of over $3B
House Bill 1001 also included the following priority items supported by Senate Democrats.
- Full funding for textbook and curricular fees for schools and parents
- Restoration of CTE funding
- increased reimbursement for Medicaid providers to 100% of Medicare rates
- $20M for low-barrier housing
- $5M to Martin University
- $20M for DCS providers
- $500M for READI 2.0 grants
Ranking minority member of the Senate Appropriations Committee State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) released the following statement on the budget bill:
“When the updated revenue forecast added $1.5B in revenue over FY 23-25, I was hoping there would be bolder investments in critical areas like health, education, tax relief and quality of life.
“Unfortunately, the decision to expand the school voucher program means taxpayers are subsidizing families making up to $220,000 by paying private school tuition for their children, despite the fact that over half of those families were already paying private school tuition on their own. This money grab will siphon $500M over the biennium from public schools, where 90% of children attend school. On top of that, charter schools in four counties will be able to capture property taxes that currently only go to traditional public schools.
“Though funding was increased for mental health, both mental and public health continue to be underfunded in this budget, which will result in the continued exacerbation of health issues for Hoosiers. I advocated for raising the cigarette tax to provide an ongoing revenue source for Senate Bill 1 and Senate Bill 4. That proposal was rejected.
“This budget is a missed opportunity to do more to fully support Hoosiers and Indiana.”