TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)—Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Indiana’s new 2 year $37.4 billion budget plan, which includes investing $1.9 billion into public education.
He said it’s the state’s first step toward addressing teacher salary concerns across the state.
“We wanted to make sure that traditional or public education was appropriately funded at the appropriate level. We believe it is,” Holcomb said.
For more than a decade Indiana State Teachers Association has advocated for an increase in teacher salaries.
ISTA president, Keith Gambill, said lawmakers $1.9 billion investment into public education speaks volumes.
“We believe that this is a very important step forward. We know the governor was committed to this,” he began. “We heard that from the state of the state address and we’re very pleased for the action that was taken today.”
Six hundred million dollars will help fund public education by addressing Indiana’s Next Level Teacher Pay Recommendations released at the end of 2020.
The budget recommends that Indiana schools pay first year teachers a minimum of $40,000 and requires schools to dedicate 45 percent of state funding to teacher pay.
Lawmakers also expanded income eligibility for the state’s voucher program by 300 percent.
“We also believe that parents should have options and choices and we funded that at what we believe is a reasonable level,” Holcomb stated.
Gambill said they strongly oppose the proposal.
“We believe public dollars should be going to public schools. Our public schools have the responsibility of showing how they are spending the public’s money. Once those funds are transferred into private entities, we don’t have those same types of observation abilities,” he noted.
Gambill sid the real work now lies in the hands of local school districts.
“It will be important for us to make sure that that money gets into the paychecks of all of our educators. So we can really start to turn the tide on the teacher shortage. So that those who were considering leaving the profession will stay with the profession and we’ll be able to encourage more young people to come and be a part of this great profession.”
Lawmakers are also decreasing taxpayer funded debt by dedicating $600 million to Pre-1996 teacher pensions. It’s an effort to secure teachers pensions in the years to come.
WATCH: Gov. Holcomb’s Two Year Budget Address