Porter: State budget falls short on human infrastructure

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Gregory W. Porter (D-Indianapolis) today issued the following statement on the Indiana House Republican biennial state budget plan (House Bill 1001):

“Considering that the Republican priority on any state budget is preservation of a hefty state surplus, I suppose it can be said that this year’s version achieves that goal. These models of ruthless efficiency offer a few extra dollars here and there in an effort to make people think they’ve accomplished a lot.

“We’ve seen this game before. The priorities remain the same: businesses, corporations, charters, vouchers.

“But where the Republican budgets fail miserably is that they expend little or no extra effort on human infrastructure.

“Consider this. The budget does not contain one penny of additional funding for food banks. While we showcase ‘backpack attacks’ to draw momentary attention to the plight facing hungry children, we do little or nothing more in assisting those organizations on the front line of combating food insecurity.

“Now consider that we still fund our in-home health care program (CHOICE) at the same level as 15 years ago. CHOICE saves the state millions in institutional care, but we continue to ignore a waiting list that stretches to the thousands.

“And what have we done to help working families across this state? House Democrats offered plans to increase the earned income tax credit and the state’s minimum wage and paved the way for starting paid family medical leave, but these initiatives get rejected.

“But what does get more funding? We continue our efforts to slash corporate taxes. There’s more dollars for business promotion and investment.

“But it’s when you get to education that you start to see the real problems with the Republican budget. Funding for K-12 gets an increase that barely covers the cost of inflation. There is not even one dollar to guarantee a pay increase for our teachers. There isn’t a single new dollar for pre-K programs. School safety gets only a pittance of an increase. Funding remains static for such things as textbook reimbursement, summer school, and gifted and talented programs.

“Charter schools get more. A lot more. They get a substantial increase through the school funding formula, as well as a 100 percent increase in grant money per student for ‘operational costs.’

“House Democrats offered an alternative budget that provided funding for a teacher pay increase, statewide pre-K, and meaningful school safety. Despite the distorted claims that came from House Republicans, it would have resulted in healthy surpluses and a positive end balance.

“We are not done advocating for these proposals through the rest of this session. Someone needs to pay attention to the human element here, rather than simply worrying about how much money we have in the bank, and our credit ratings. Such things don’t help us help Hoosiers.”

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