The governor’s recently released budget proposal aims to move around – and add some dollars – in the education mix, but some say it doesn’t do anything to help teachers.
Gov. Eric Holcomb’s budget includes a 2 percent funding increase for schools, per year of the biennium.
It also cuts the state’s Teacher Appreciation Grants, which provide bonus money to highly rated teachers.
Under the proposal, a third of that funding – $10 million – would help boost the state’s teacher school supply tax credit to $500. The remaining $20 million dedicated for the fund would go into state tuition support.
Holcomb’s top fiscal advisors say the goal is for districts to use that additional funding for better teacher pay. But Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick says since funding follows the student, that money might not even make it to every school.
“Some of the districts may not receive any new moneys when it’s all said and done with the way our formula works,” she says. “When the money follows the child, although we get a 2 percent increase that doesn’t necessarily equate to a 2 percent increase for teachers on a salary.”
Even if the teacher appreciation grant money goes back into school funding, there’s no way to determine how schools will use it. Lawmakers on the House Education Committee received pushback from school advocacy groups and teachers earlier this week on a bill that aims to increase pay by limiting how schools manage their budgets.
Both Democrats and Republicans on the State Budget Committee took issue with the idea of getting rid of Teacher Appreciation Grants – the only line item in the state budget dedicated to increasing teachers’ pay.
Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Gary) does not sit on the committee, but said in a statement following the governor’s budget announcement, the plan lacks a commitment to meaningfully improve teacher salaries.
“Governor Holcomb neglected to request necessary funding to provide teachers across Indiana with a pay raise,” he said. “Without new money, there is no way to ensure that teachers will actually receive a raise.”
Holcomb’s plan also includes $3 million per year for computer science training, $2 million per year for workforce ready grants, and another $2 million per year for high school career counseling.
Holcomb’s budget also mentions his goal of expanding the capacity of On My Way Pre-K by 500 seats but offers no new money for the program to expand in other parts of the state.
The governor’s plans are largely seen as a starting point for negotiations among lawmakers, and the state’s final budget will likely have several changes.