Indiana’s new, two-year, $36 billion state budget is headed for its final negotiation phase after the Senate approved its version of the spending plan Tuesday.
The Senate budget proposal spends more on K-12 education overall than its House counterpart. And it focuses more of those dollars on students living in poverty and less on private school vouchers than the House version.
It also begins to spend nearly $1 billion in federal COVID-19 relief coming to Indiana. That includes $100 million for what Sen. Vaneta Becker (R-Evanvsille) said is a long-neglected need.
“We’re finally seeing a little bit of attention paid to mental health and the need because of the pandemic," Becker said. "And I think that’s positive.”
Sen. Fady Qaddoura (D-Indianapolis) said the budget, despite its positive steps, fails to meet Indiana’s needs.
“So, I’m appreciative that we added a one-time grant for health care. But we are still ranking in the bottom 10," Qaddoura said. "I’m extremely appreciative we added more dollars to education. But we still rank in the bottom 10 nationwide on teacher compensation funding of our schools.”
The budget will be finalized within the next two weeks.