INDIANAPOLIS—On Thursday, Senate Democratic Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) voted in opposition to the biennial budget, House Bill 1001, for the final time before the close of the 2021 legislative session.

“I commend the leaders on the Senate Appropriations Committee, House Ways and Means Committee and members in both chambers for their work on this budget.

“I especially applaud my caucus for being persistent in putting people first as they fought to get important language into this budget,” Sen. Taylor said. “In committee and at the second reading deadline, we offered nearly 40 amendments to HB 1001. Nearly all were voted down.

“Despite that, my caucus kept fighting. And thanks to this fight, and President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, we are able to invest in people with this budget.

“We were able to invest more heavily in K-12 education, and give localities some of the dollars they need to give our educators raises.

“We were able to restore funding for mental health and addiction, provide a raise to direct support professionals who take care of our family members with intellectual and developmental disabilities, increase funding for food banks and secure adoption subsidies for Hoosier adoptive parents.

“We definitely saw some victories in this budget, and I celebrate how each member of the Senate Democratic Caucus fought for their constituents and ultimately made an impact on this proposal.

“However, this budget contained one glaring issue that I couldn’t overlook. Despite the increased funding to K-12, the budget still disproportionately divides new dollars to favor vouchers at the expense of traditional public schools.

“Traditional public schools, which educate 93% of our students, should be receiving 93% of funding. Instead, voucher schools that educate only 4.5% of our students are receiving over 10% of funding, which siphons away dollars from our traditional public school system.

“This expansion of voucher programs at the expense of traditional public education is an ongoing trend in the General Assembly, and I believe it communicates the value we place on the schools and teachers that teach the overwhelming majority of our students.

“While I am proud of my caucus for their very meaningful victories with some of the items we were able to get included in this budget, I will not support the expansion of voucher schools at the expense of our traditional public schools. That is why I ultimately voted against the budget.”