AP NEWS

Indiana Republicans hold fast against cash shift to schools

January 9, 2020 GMT

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Republicans are remaining firm against Democratic proposals for using an unexpected jump in state revenue to increase school funding this year.

The Indiana House voted along party lines Thursday in rejecting amendments from Democrats to a spending bill being fast-tracked by Republicans that directs $291 million to paying cash rather than borrowing money for several planned college campus construction projects.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and GOP legislators maintain that approach will save the state at least $130 million in long-term interest payments and that more can be done about the state’s lagging teacher pay in 2021 when a new two-year budget is written.

Democratic Rep. Greg Porter of Indianapolis proposed giving the nearly $300 million to schools in a step he said would correct “amnesia” among Republicans about an education funding cut ordered by then-Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels in 2010 after tax revenue fell during the Great Recession. He said that funding was never restored and the state could do better with growing revenue and $2 billion in cash reserves.

“Why not give it to people that need it?” Porter said.

Republican Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown of Crawfordsville said the Democratic plans represented a shift in spending priorities from a complex state budget plan giving a 2.5% increase for K-12 schools that legislators approved in April.

“We’re just taking the priorities we already made and funding them a different way,” Brown said.