The biggest winners in the State Budget that passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday are Education and Infrastructure.
State Representative Mark Messmer called WITZ News Tuesday to give us his take on the budget and what it means for the state:
Messmer says its about time that education got a big increase due to the lean budgets in the past few sessions that have hamstrung schools in implementing many changes and improvements that are needed:
The second area needing a boost is infrastructure – roads and bridges around the state since the money from the toll road is already committed and spent and with the decline in gas tax revenues, the state had to find a way to increase spending to make improvements and Messmer reports that this budget includes more for road spending and puts a financial structure in place to continue funding it going forward:
The House Bill 1001 now goes to the full House for a vote and then on to the Senate. It is widely expected to pass and be signed into law, although Messmer said that amendments could be attached to the Bill as it passes through both side of the Legislature. Still to be debated in the Senate is the tax-cut proposal by Governor Mike Pence. One of the centerpieces of his Roadmap for Indiana during the election has gotten a cool reception from lawmakers and faces an uncertain future in this budget.
Democrats say the state could afford to go further on school funding, and object to cuts in the Prime Time program to control class sizes. Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville) says the budget keeps House Republicans‘ promise to continue rebuilding school budgets after the recession prompted cuts in 2010. He boasts the money earmarked for schools is the most in state history. The budget gives schools a two-percent increase in the first year of the two-year budget and an additional one-percent the second year. The committee made a last-minute addition of seven-million dollars after discovering a math error left the budget a little short of those targets.