Pence statement portrays contention over state budgets



The Indiana Senate’s recommended state budget for the next two years, released last week, has received criticism from Gov. Mike Pence for its approach to education.

In the budget proposed in House Bill 1001 by the Indiana House of Representatives, Indianapolis Public Schools would lose about $32 million dollars during the next ?two years.

With the formula used by the Senate’s proposed budget, Indianapolis Public Schools would lose about $22 million during the next two years.

Pence issued a statement in which he denounced the formula used by the Senate’s recommended budget and expressed support for his and the House’s budget plans.

“While I appreciate the Senate’s focus on school funding, I prefer the House budget’s approach to the public funding formula where the dollars more closely follow the students in growing suburban areas,” Pence said. “I also prefer my budget’s approach where more funding is provided to public charter schools serving students in our urban areas. My budget also includes full funding for our regional cities program, and I am hopeful we can work with the House and Senate to achieve the full potential of this innovative approach to economic development.”

The Senate’s proposed budget is being hailed by Senate leadership as an honestly balanced budget, which allocates $31.5 billion to the state during the next two fiscal years, compared to the House’s budget of $31.3 billion for the biennium.

The Senate’s proposed budget would also end the biennium with $1.88 billion in reserves.

Indiana’s state budget is redefined every two years.

The budget currently being debated will go into effect for a biennial period July 1, 2015, and continue ?until June 30, 2017.

State Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, who compiled the proposed Senate budget and is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, spoke in favor of keeping some focus of the education budget in public school districts.

“State leaders made it clear from the start of session that we would put education first on our list of priorities, and that is exactly what this budget does while continuing our commitment to fiscal responsibility and holding the line on spending,” Kenley said in a press release. “It incentivizes excellence in our public schools, funds local and state infrastructure and encourages Hoosier job growth without any tax increases.”

The Senate’s proposed budget would also increase funding for K-12 public by $466 million during the next two fiscal years — a 2.3-percent increase for both years — and increase foundation spending per student to $4,943 in fiscal year 2016 and to $5,052 in fiscal year 2017.

The Senate’s budget increases total university ?operating funds by $220 million in the biennium and authorizes $367 million in ?university capital projects.

“As we move forward, I believe we can maintain and reserve levels,” Pence said. “As we move forward, I believe we can maintain the state’s fiscal integrity and make the kinds of investment and reforms that will keep our economy moving forward and help our students and our schools?succeed.”

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