Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley (R- Noblesville), primary drafter of the Senate version of the budget, has now put his touches on the House-drafted version. After a concise explanation and short discussion in committee, HB 1001 was passed unanimously (although the Democrat leadership expressed mild discomfort with some particulars) and now goes to the full Senate.
A few highlights of the $32.14 billion budget package include:
- a 1.7% increase each year in K-12 education funding – $348 million over the biennium
- $4 billion to higher education
- $5 million to the governor’s office for substance abuse prevention, treatment and enforcement
- $500,000 for homeless veterans
- a 24% salary increase for state police officers
- $6 million to double-track the South Shore Line
The budget will maintain an 11%, or $1.8 billion, reserve. But there is a lot still to be determined about how the final negotiated budget will shape up. Unresolved at this point is the fate of the House’s desire to direct all the sales tax collected on gasoline to road funding and an increase to the cigarette tax – both of which could impact the budget. And finally, it must be recalled that the budget-makers will receive an updated revenue forecast in a couple weeks; that too could change the picture some. So, while the Senate has spoken, the last word is still a few weeks away.