INDIANAPOLIS—On Thursday, Senate Republicans released their biennial budget proposal. Appropriations Ranking Minority Member Eddie Melton (D-Gary) released the following statement:
“Though the Senate Republicans’ budget is a marked improvement over the House version, our record surplus means we have the means to go even further and make bold, sustainable investments in our people. I was relieved to see that the $500M voucher expansion was removed and that $95M was put towards complexity grants to further support Indiana’s most vulnerable students. My caucus and I were also pleased to see a line item eliminating textbook fees, realizing a years-long legislative push by our members. I was also glad to see full funding of the Medicaid forecast, which will guarantee millions of Hoosiers critical health coverage. Food banks, public safety, and veterans’ programs also each received a needed funding boost under the Senate budget, all of which my caucus and I are more than happy to support.
“I was also pleased on behalf of my district to see funding for critical local projects like the Gary International Airport and a study on the prevention of beach erosion. These funds will help us improve key assets in our community and realize Gary’s potential as an economic hub for the State of Indiana.
“My caucus and I were disappointed by the insufficient funding for SB 1: with Hoosier youth reporting high levels of mental illness and Indiana ranking in bottom ten for availability of mental health services, it’s critical we fully fund mental health initiatives like SB 1 and the 988 crisis line. I’ll also be pushing for the full $337M funding of the Governor’s Public Health Commission, which is funded at just $225M in the proposed Senate Budget. Indiana’s public health funding is consistently bottom of the pack nationally, as well as our rankings on associated metrics like maternal mortality and life expectancy—we need to commit to funding these basic services.
“I’m also hesitant about the Senate Republicans’ plan for charter schools, which would allow them to siphon property tax revenue from traditional public schools with no additional transparency guardrails—I think it’s key that we pursue financial clarity and stability as we discuss how to spend public dollars. I’ll also be pushing for the inclusion of the 13th check for public retirees, many of whom are on fixed incomes and are burdened by consistently high cost of living. Finally, I’ll also be working to fund Ivy Tech’s request to construct a new Michigan City campus. Our state must encourage more high school graduates to continue their education, and adding more schools to expand accessibility is a necessary step. Overall, we’re off to a strong start, but we still have more we must do to support and secure Hoosiers’ families, their futures, and their freedoms.”