With budget session approaching, renewed commitment to public education vital
By Indiana State Senator Richard D. Young Jr. (D-Milltown)
Word Count: 301

Ensuring that every Hoosier child has an opportunity at a high quality education is always a priority for Senate Democrats with a budget session approaching. That means providing the appropriate resources to Indiana schools, and public school education funding has been less than a top priority the last few budget cycles.

In December of 2009, public school budgets were cut by almost $300 million. These cuts established a new, lower funding base that has not been restored through the 2011 and 2013 budget cycles.

With the expansion of the state’s voucher program in 2013, the dilemma has been compounded. The legislature, without an appropriate study of the effects of vouchers on public schools, elected to expand the voucher program and further siphon funds from public education. All in the name of saving the state money.

A recent report by the Indiana Department of Education concluded that while the voucher program may have saved the state $4.2 million in 2011-2012 school year and $4.9 million in the 2012-2013 school year, the changes the legislature made in 2013 that allowed some children already in private schools to receive vouchers ended up costing the state nearly $16 million in taxpayer money.

To achieve the positive change we wish to see in preparing our children for lifelong success, we must fully restore the $300 million in cuts made to education in 2009, invest in early education and take a more holistic view of education from preschool through college.

With the budget session quickly approaching, legislators in the Statehouse need to renew their commitment to public schools by providing them the resources necessary to have our children succeed. By making sound investments, rewarding quality teachers and encouraging student growth, we can cut down on remediation and ensure our students are prepared for college or a career.

As always, I would like to hear your thoughts and ideas on the issues that matter most to you. Please contact me at (800) 382-9467 or s47@iga.in.gov.

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