House Republicans vote to slash Vigo County School Corporation funding
Due to an accounting trick by Indiana House Republicans, Vigo County School Corporation will be on the hook financially for students' textbook costs and saddled with an effective budget cut. State Rep. Tonya Pfaff (D-Terre Haute) is calling attention to the fact that VCSC will lose $1,378,922 in funding during the 2024 fiscal year to cover the cost of textbooks for all students.
In his proposed state biennial budget, Gov. Eric Holcomb threw his support behind Indiana House Democrats' decades-long call to eliminate all textbook fees for students as its own line item entirely paid for by the state.
House Republicans' budget eliminates textbook funding and instead will force schools to pay for the cost of textbooks out of their state funding, even for students on free and reduced lunches, which the state currently covers.
On the surface, VCSC will receive a 3.42% increase in total funding from 2023 to 2024, an increase from $109,953,711 to $113,709,855. But thanks to the textbook cost of $1,378,922, that increase in funding actually comes out to only 2.14% – far below the current 6.4% rise in inflation. This will result in a practical funding cut for VCSC.
“Our state constitution promises tuition-free education for all students, and it's time to make good on that promise for students and families,” Pfaff said. “But House Republicans' budget is a bait and switch that saddles the Vigo County School Corporation will the cost of all students' textbooks and only makes up a third of the cost of inflation.
“This means that VCSC will have less money to boost learning loss efforts for students, improve school operations, and give teachers and staff a cost-of-living pay raise. House Republicans are attempting to deceive Hoosier families once again by imposing a massive unfunded mandate and budget cut while claiming it’s a win for students and families. This will result in either higher property taxes for Vigo County taxpayers or further budget cuts in our schools.
“In proposing that the state cover the cost of textbooks, Gov. Holcomb's office estimated it would cost the state $160 million. Given our state budget totals $43 billion, I can't stress enough how relatively small this budget expenditure would be for a huge, positive impact on students, families, and schools. It's disappointing the Republican Supermajority once again is choosing not to use our huge budget surplus to improve outcomes for the 90% of school-age Hoosier children who attend public school.
“I encourage all concerned parents and residents to contact their state senator and representative to express their dissatisfaction with this measure.”
As part of the House Republican budget proposal, this provision has passed out of the Indiana House of Representatives and is now under consideration by the State Senate.