INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WOWO): House Bill 1001, the state budget bill, passed the Indiana House of Representatives Tuesday on a party-line vote.
State Rep. Gregory Porter (D-Indianapolis) issued the following statement after the passage of the bill:
“There will be many things said in support of the House Republican budget that will have to be taken with a rather large grain of salt…none larger than the myth that it ‘takes care’ of the problems with the formula used to fund our schools.
“On the contrary, if the House Republican formula is put in place, 139 schools across Indiana will lose state support in the first year of the budget. In the second year, 80 lose support. If you look at the individual numbers, you will see that the vast majority of these schools that are adversely impacted are in urban and rural areas.
“If we are being truthful, this new budget is a giant step forward in a multi-year effort to gradually gut rural and urban schools of the support they need to do the job they are constitutionally required to perform. The sole beneficiaries of this effort are rich, suburban school corporations…and, of course, the ongoing Republican effort to create as many voucher programs and support as many charter schools as they can get away with.
“In the days to come, you will hear a lot of talk about how this budget provides more money for public education. Some will say that it provides more money than any budget ever has.
“What they will not be able to say is how much money goes to our public schools, the voucher program, and charters. House Democrats tried to provide more transparency to this process so taxpayers will know who gets what, but the Republicans weren’t listening.
“In fact, it would be safe to say that this is a very timid budget. The House Democratic budget proposal would have eliminated the textbook tax on families and made college affordable for a growing number of people who desire to advance their lives without fearing the financial uncertainty. The House Republican response? Nope and nope.
“So where will this leave our public schools? Pretty much in the same shape as before. While the Republicans may brag about all the money they are passing along, I suspect those cheers will not be echoed in many places around this state. I know that most of this focus will be on the severe impact on our largest cities, but people need to understand that our rural school corporations suffer just as much. There is more pain for them.
“What could have helped them is the restoration of $300 million in cuts demanded by the Daniels Administration, but I think it is safe to say that money has disappeared, never to be found again. House Republicans weren’t interested in restoring that funding.
“Why did it disappear in the first place? To help shore up the state’s bottom line. More than anything else, that is the priority of this budget and those who crafted it. Nothing is as important as a bloated surplus, no matter how much it hurts our schools and families.
“So many of our schools will scramble to keep heads above ground. Families will continue to pay out hundreds of dollars to make sure their children get the supplies they need.
“In its most critical areas of need, this House Republican budget fails the people of Indiana. There is time to fix this mess, but I worry this is the template for more pain down the road.”