Hoosier Lawmakers Await Economic Forecast

INDIANAPOLIS (WOWO): Negotiations over a final state budget for the next two years won‘t start for another week.

Legislators are awaiting Thursday’s release of an updated economic forecast. House Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville) suspects they‘ll have to trim spending levels a bit. He sees danger signs in last month’s employment numbers. A national gain of 126-thousand jobs was the smallest increase in 15 months.

The House and Senate are close to agreement already on how much to spend, but they need to confer on the details, including competing versions of the school funding formula. The House calculated bonus funding for low-income students based on the number of pupils in the federal school lunch program, while the Senate counted families receiving welfare or food stamps.

Brown says he‘ll have to review whether that measure is accurate. Governor Pence has already declared he prefers the House formula.

He says it does a better job of meeting Republicans‘ goal of narrowing the variation in the per-pupil funding school districts receive. He‘s also lobbying for money for charter schools to close a funding gap with traditional public schools. The Senate budget sends that issue to a study committee.