INDIANAPOLIS – On Thursday, Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes) and State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) held a press conference to share Senate Democrats’ amendments to the budget.

The first amendment takes language from Senate Bill 399, a proposal authored by Sen. Melton that was not given a committee hearing, to create the Educator’s Salary Grant which provides a five percent salary increase for teachers, counselors and social workers. The amendment outlines several avenues to fund these raises, which would cost the state about $315 million over the biennium.

  • Repurpose teacher appreciation grants: Move $60 million spent over the biennium on teacher bonuses to base salary pay.
  • Revamp TRF pre-’96 Fund: Extend the time in which the Teacher’s Retirement Fund Pre 1996 Fund is paid in full to save $100 million per year until the fund is completely paid down in 2045.
  • Reinvest charter school grants: Eliminate the $77 million expansion to charter school grants proposed in the House Republican budget.
  • Reuse increased voucher grants: Eliminate the 70 percent voucher expansion proposed by House Republicans to free up $19 million for teacher raises.
  • Reduce voucher spending: Limit voucher spending to only students who have previously attended a public school to save $157 million over the biennium.
  • Reinvest SGO Tax: Eliminate tax credits for Scholarship Granting Organizations and use the $5 million in savings for teacher salaries.

“Our teachers make less than any of our neighboring states, and Indiana ranks dead last in the country for teacher salary growth. It is time we do the right thing and pay our educators what they deserve. This is a common sense amendment to invest not only in our teachers, but also in our students,” Sen. Melton said.

The second amendment invests into revolving loan funds a portion of the $1 billion in new revenue generated from the Indiana Tollway lease. This amendment would give Indiana Brownfields $50 million for remediation of contaminated industrial sites and $100 million to the water infrastructure fund as well as the transportation infrastructure fund. Finally, it would allocate $100 million to create a local infrastructure fund for local projects such as community improvement, building rehabilitation and land acquisition.

“It is the constitutional responsibility of the General Assembly to appropriate money. This billion dollars should not be “off the books” money that can be moved around by the governor,” Sen. Tallian said. “We want to stretch these dollars and make them last as long as possible, which is why we prefer revolving loan funds and matching grant programs.”

Both amendments were voted down along party lines in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Senate Democrats will continue to fight to make the budget one that works for all Hoosiers and to provide raises for our dedicated and valued teachers.