Rep. Sheila Klinker releases statement on Republican budget

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana House passed the state biennial budget 65-30, and it now heads to the Indiana Senate. The Indiana House Democratic Caucus proposed several amendments to the budget, but they were voted down by the Republican supermajority. 

State Representative Sheila Klinker (D-Lafayette), member of the House Ways and Means Committee, is disappointed in the lack of appropriations in the budget, specifically for pre-K, higher education, areas in career training, teacher salaries and mental health programs.

“I have no doubt that every legislator, Republican or Democrat, is working in Hoosiers’ best interests, but it is discouraging to see our proposals rejected with very little consideration,” Klinker said. “We want to help our public school teachers and students, and working families. The Republicans’ state budget does not include enough money for education.”

The Republicans’ state budget advances the school voucher program, but there were several Republican members who did not support school voucher expansion. The budget also does not raise teachers’ salaries, and it cuts funding for the Community and Home Options to Institutional Care for the Elderly and Disabled program (CHOICE).

The House refused to pass several amendments to increase educator wages, restore $300 million in debt to public schools and appropriate $100 million to pre-K

There is also no current plan for teachers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 while the Governor continues the age-based approach. Klinker agrees with State Rep. Tonya Pfaff (D-Terre Haute), who wrote a letter to Governor Eric Holcomb calling for teachers to be vaccinated.

“Our state right now is not prioritizing and valuing teachers,” Klinker said. “The budget does not reflect the investment our teachers put into our classrooms, and it does not value their health as we are asking them to return in person. Our teachers deserve to be shown just how important and essential they are to our state, and that means a salary raise and the opportunity to get vaccinated.”

Klinker is also dissatisfied with the cut in funds toward the CHOICE program, which provides home- and community-based services for the elderly in maintaining their independence. 

“Our senior citizens are too often forgotten,” Klinker said. “The CHOICE program offers vital services so our elderly can retain their dignity at home. 

“Once again, I’m asking for my colleagues to support Hoosiers who need it the most, and if the aid is not in this budget, then I look forward to working with them on these issues later in this session and in future sessions.”

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