INDIANAPOLIS–On Friday, State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) released the following statement explaining his vote on the budget:

“When this bill passed the Senate, I voted no—but I reserved the right to change my vote should this proposal improve. Unfortunately, it went in the opposite direction. Traditional public schools take a massive loss in HB 1001. Not only was the voucher expansion from the House restored, but the language allowing charter schools to collect property taxes going to traditional public schools also remains in the bill. Now—it’s targeting just four counties, including mine. This budget bill will have a devastating impact on schools in my district and across the state. With SB 391 allowing charter schools to also receive referendum dollars, public schools are about to be hit hard. I am unequivocally against the ongoing war being waged against public schools.

“Public and mental health are also underfunded in HB 1001 even though we have the ability to fully fund both. Indiana has an additional $1.5B coming in over the biennium. I also proposed raising the cigarette tax to provide ongoing revenue for health funding. It was rejected and neither funding requests from the Behavioral Health Commission nor the Public Health Commission were met. I’m disappointed in this Legislature’s refusal to put vital dollars where it’s needed to support something as important as the health of our residents. Neglecting to adequately fund public and mental health is a mistake that will only result in worsening health outcomes for Hoosiers.

“We had the opportunity to pass a robust and bold budget that prioritized Hoosiers and Indiana this session. I’m disappointed that this Legislature refused to take it.”