House Democrats offered their own budget proposal Thursday, including increased K-12 education funding and a progressive tax cut. The Republican-controlled House rejected the proposal with a vote along party lines.
Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) said at the start of session one of the minority’s responsibilities was to provide alternatives to Republican initiatives. When it comes to the budget, the House Democrats’ alternative includes nearly $500 million more for K-12 education. Democrats say their budget ensures no school loses money with the school funding formula and helps restore funding cuts made during the recession.
However, Ways and Means chair Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville) says the Democratic budget also essentially shuts off funding to the state’s school voucher program.
“It throws over nine thousand children of low-income choice out, under the bus, literally. They cannot go to the place that is best for them.”
Pelath says the state needs to shift focus back to students in the public school system.
“Forget about the parents, forget about the teachers and our politics about ‘This interest group wants that or this interest group wants something else’ – it’s about these kids and what’s going on in the classrooms. They can’t take it anymore.”
The budget also included a progressive tax cut for Hoosiers earning less than $200,000 a year and another $200 million for local communities to invest in capital projects. A 65 to 31 vote killed the measure.