The public got its last chance Thursday to weigh in on the budget bill as lawmakers finalize the state’s new two-year, $34 billion spending plan.
Much of the testimony focused on education spending, with teacher and school advocates pushing for more money.
The discussion also criticized changes made to the budget in the Senate. For one, that version eliminated the so-called “13th check,” a bonus state pension payment made in lieu of a cost-of-living adjustment. Senate Republicans instead sent that money to overall K-12 education. Indiana Retired Teachers Association executive director Tom Mellish objects.
“They need as much funding as possible on there but don’t take it off the backs of retirees,” Mellish says.
Other groups take issue with the Senate GOP’s plan to use a temporary transportation fund to help pay for the Department of Child Services. Dennis Faulkenberg represents the Build Indiana Council, a transportation construction coalition.
“The road funding bill of 2017 has been very popular even though people have to pay more for better roads,” Faulkenberg says. “But that popularity is based – as I’ve found from talking to Hoosiers all over the state – on the promise that what they’re paying is gonna go to their roads.”
Lawmakers have until April 29 to finish the budget.