Luke Kenley

Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Indiana Senate leaders Thursday rolled out their version of the state budget, and there are some differences from their House GOP colleagues in a number of key areas:

HIGHER EDUCATION

In total, higher education spending makes up 12-percent of the Senate’s proposed two-year, $31.5 billion budget.

That’s considerably more than what the House suggested.

Senate Appropriations Chair Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) acknowledges the increase and says it would move state universities in the right direction.

Senate, House Sparring Over 'Double Direct' Tax

Mar 18, 2015
Dave Dugdale / https://www.flickr.com/photos/davedugdale/

Legislators are taking another stab at streamlining the so-called "double direct" tax exemption for business.

Farms and manufacturers don‘t owe sales tax on equipment if it‘s directly used in production. The difficulty in interpreting that test prompted Governor Pence to make it a key element of his tax simplification bill.

But the House deleted the simplifications after analysts reported they would cost the state a quarter-billion dollars a year.

James Britton / https://www.flickr.com/photos/jbritton/2830693569

An end to service on the Hoosier State passenger rail line could throw a wrench into public transportation advocates’ hopes for a funding increase in the state budget. 

Transit advocates Tuesday used a day they'd been planning for weeks to highlight the problems that could wreak on the affected communities.

The House Republican budget proposal included a $6.4 million dollar in public transit funding -- $6 million of which was meant for the Hoosier State Rail Line. 

Kyle Stokes / http://indianapublicmedia.org/stateimpact/

House and Senate Republicans are in general agreement about how much to give schools in the new state budget.

But a debate is looming over how to calculate funding for low-income students.

Schools receive extra state funding based on a computation of how many students are from low-income families.

The House Republican budget proposes switching to a simple count of how many students are on the federal free-lunch program.

Education Bill Proposes ISTEP Replacement

Jan 26, 2015
Benjamin Chun / https://www.flickr.com/photos/benchun/

The Senate may take up a bill to scrap Indiana schools’ state-mandated tests.

Sens. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) and Ryan Mishler (R-Bremen) have proposed junking the Core 40 end-of-course assessments entirely, and replacing ISTEP with something shorter, cheaper, and easier to grade.

President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) says students and teachers are frustrated with how much time is spent either taking tests or getting ready for them. And he says he‘s still hearing complaints from schools in his district about problems with McGraw-Hill‘s administration of ISTEP.

http://www.indiana2016.org/

Indiana’s bicentennial is next year and Governor Mike Pence’s proposed budget includes funding for several parts of the celebration.  But the Senate’s budget architect says the governor might be doing too much celebrating.

The governor’s proposed budget includes more than 50 million dollars for several bicentennial projects.  Office of Management and Budget Director Chris Atkins says that includes money for a statewide torch relay, a Bicentennial Plaza next to the Statehouse and an education center at the State Library.

Paul Robinson / https://www.flickr.com/photos/happyfunpaul/

Gov. Mike Pence’s proposed budget, unveiled Thursday, includes increased funding for the Department of Correction and new prison construction.  But, it includes no money for local community corrections.

Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Governor Mike Pence says he wants the State Budget Committee to release the second half of the Major Moves 2020 fund. 

Two years ago, lawmakers put $400 million into what they called the Major Moves 2020 fund.  It was meant for long-term, future projects. 

Pence last year secured the release of half of the fund to add lanes to major interstates.  The governor Tuesday announced he will ask the State Budget Committee to approve the transfer of the remaining $200 million.  He says it will be used for capacity building.

Jim Nix / https://www.flickr.com/photos/jimnix/6168273244

Indiana’s gaming revenue has been in free fall for a few years, and it’s predicted to continue its drop in the upcoming two-year budget cycle. 

That’s in large part because of increased competition from neighboring states. 

A legislative study committee is proposing changes to the industry that include moving riverboats on land, allowing live dealers rather than electronic table games at racinos, and tax incentives. 

Rachel Morello / http://www.ipbs.org/

State Superintendent Glenda Ritz outlined the Department of Education’s proposed budget Thursday to the state budget committee.

The main concern of committee members was the cost of testing.

Ritz’s proposal included a request for $65 million dollars for testing and remediation.

State education leaders are still in the process of creating a new assessment for the 2015-16 school year. That test will align with state-specific academic standards schools began implementing this year.

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