Gov. Eric Holcomb proposed a new plan to free up state dollars for teacher pay in his State of the State address Tuesday. That plan could be implemented this year – but Holcomb wants to wait for 2021.
Republicans insist that further efforts to boost educator salaries must wait until the 2021 budget session. Holcomb’s new plan (targeted for next year) would use one-time dollars to pay down part of a teacher pension fund.
“In turn, $50 million a year will be generated to redirect to teacher pay,” Holcomb says.
Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) questions why the state will wait to spend that money.
“It’s the old ‘I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.’ No. Pay me now," Lanane says. "Let’s get the money on the table.”
Republican leaders are steadfast – no new money this year for teacher pay. Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) sides with the governor, saying it has to wait for the 2021 state budget.
“To commit a quarter of a billion dollars today on a fiscal forecast that doesn’t exist yet. … I don’t think would be a wise use of state resources,” Bosma says.
Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick said in a statement she appreciated Holcomb's inclusion of teacher pay in his State of the State remarks, but said his solution delayed "necessary action."
“Insufficient school funding resulting in inadequate teacher compensation impacts 1.1 million students, 78,000 Hoosier educators, and the future of our great state," McCormick said. "Students cannot afford to lose more great educators while Indiana decides if we can afford them.”
Republicans are spending new money this session on cash payments for higher education capital projects approved in last year’s budget.
The governor also has a new plan to make adoptions easier and quicker. He’s creating an adoption unit – a first for Indiana – at the Department of Child Services.
“Whose sole purpose and focus will be assisting family case managers with finding permanent homes for children,” Holcomb says.
Administration officials say the new adoption unit should be up and running this year.
Holcomb also used his State of the State address to again push for a law that would ban the use of cell phones while driving unless hands-free. Democrats applaud that proposal but Republican leaders are less willing to back it right now.
Remarks are as prepared for delivery.