House Republicans approved a new, two-year, $36 billion budget Monday they say boosts education and helps businesses recover from the pandemic.
Democrats, however, say the GOP budget fails to adequately lift people up.
Rep. Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville) is his caucus’s budget architect. He touts $378 million new spending for K-12 education (about a third of which will go to private school vouchers), grants for small business recovery, student learning loss, law enforcement and regional economic development.
“Indiana is the best state in the Midwest for jobs and people working and that shows in the strength of how we budget in state government,” Brown said.
The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Indiana is near the top – but not the best – in the Midwest region for labor force growth and its unemployment rate over the last year.
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Rep. Holli Sullivan (R-Evansville) said Indiana's budget situation is the envy of other states.
"They would relish the conversation of which [career and technical education] funding dollars to use in which classes versus how much to cut out of their CTE funding," Sullivan said.
But Rep. Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis) said the budget fails to address many of the state’s critical issues.
“Are we going to continue to be overweight, with high blood pressure, with low college graduation rates? Is that what we’re going to do? Gonna continue to pay our teachers $10,000 less than they should be making?" DeLaney said. "This budget is absolutely devoid of any vision.”
Rep. Greg Porter (D-Indianapolis) laments all the Democratic amendments to the budget Republicans rejected: small increases for women- and minority-owned businesses and food banks, increased spending on public health and more money for pre-K education.
"There are so many things that we've worked on for so many years to try to help lift people up ... we can do better," Porter said.
The budget now heads to the Senate.