On Thursday, members of the Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus announced their plans to address inadequate teacher salaries this year. Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson), Senate Democratic Chair Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes) and State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) presented two proposals aimed at increasing teacher pay.

The first proposal, authored by Sen. Melton, would appropriate $100 million each year for fiscal years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 to the Teacher Appreciation Grant. Senate Bill (SB) 413 is effective upon passage, therefore, teachers rated effective or highly effective would receive additional money immediately this school year.

“One of my biggest priorities for 2020 has been to find a way to put much needed dollars in teachers’ pockets this year after Statehouse Republicans doubled down on their insistence that teachers would have to wait to see any pay raises,” Sen. Melton said. “My proposal could cost taxpayers no extra money by using a small portion of the state’s additional millions in unexpected revenue to help pay our teachers what they deserve. I urge the governor to support this proposal to show teachers that their voices and concerns matter. ”

The second proposal, authored by Sen. Tallian, offers a method to fund a pay increase, not only this year, but also on an ongoing basis. SB 306 would “smooth out” current and future payments to the Teacher Retirement Fund (TRF) to free up $100 million per year. This money would be allocated to the Indiana Department of Education for teacher salary increases.

“This nonsense about the legislature being unable to address teacher salaries during a non-budget year is frustrating, misleading and wrong,” Sen. Tallian said. “They have moved fiscal items in non-budget years many times in the past, as recently as 2008, 2016 and 2018. If this was a priority for the supermajority, they would open the budget and get it done.”

The entire Senate Democratic Caucus signed on as co-authors to both SB 306 and 413. Sen. Lanane had the following to say about the need to address teacher salaries this session.

“Our teachers spoke loud and clear at the November 19 Red for Ed Day of Action about their top concerns for education in Indiana,” Sen. Lanane said. “Teacher pay was one of the reasons they came by the thousands to the Statehouse, and the Senate Democrats continue to stand by our dedicated educators. We are proving our allegiance by putting our energy behind both of these bills to help secure appropriate compensation for their profession.”

Indiana has had the slowest teacher salary growth in the nation since 2002 and the lowest salaries of any of its neighboring states.