INDIANAPOLIS—On Thursday, the biennial budget was approved out of the Senate for the final time. Senate Assistant Democratic Leader Eddie Melton (D-Gary), who voted in support of House Bill (HB) 1001, released the following statement explaining his vote:

“This session, my caucus came to the Statehouse on a mission to stand up for each of our residents and provide a voice to the Hoosiers we represent back home. In line with that, we vowed to fight for a budget that was fair and that worked in the best interest of every person in our state.”

“That’s why we fought so hard to get our amendments into HB 1001. Just a few weeks ago, my caucus stood on the Senate floor and offered around 40 amendments to the budget. Nearly all of them were voted down. Still, we kept on fighting, because we knew we had to do all we could for the Hoosiers who are struggling right now. And our persistence paid off.

“Thanks to the federal funds from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, we were able to see many Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus priority items included in this budget. 

“Our mission to increase funding for K-12 education and food banks, provide localities with support to give our teachers a salary increase, grant raises to direct support providers, restore funding for mental health and addiction—all of those goals are accomplished in this most recent budget.

“Funding to assist with continued economic development projects along the Buffington Harbor area in my district was also included in HB 1001.

“There were many, many victories in this year’s budget, and that is why I ultimately felt obligated to support HB 1001 on behalf of the residents in my district. 

“However, I want to be very clear—I do not support the expansion to voucher programs that were made in the budget. My biggest point of consternation with HB 1001 was the continued siphoning of money away from traditional public schools to voucher schools.

“I remain firm in my stance that our traditional public schools that educate 93 percent of our students deserve to receive 93 percent of educational funding. 

“Still, I do want to applaud the passage of this budget and the wins that my caucus and community were able to secure. I commend and thank Sen. Mishler, our hard working fiscal staff and everyone else who spent countless hours putting this budget together. HB 1001 isn’t perfect, but I do believe it will go a long way to support Indiana residents and improve our state.”