House Democrats offered their own budget proposal Thursday, including increased K-12 education funding and a progressive tax cut. But the House rejected the proposal with a vote along party lines.
House Minority Leader Scott Pelath said at the start of session one of the minority’s responsibilities was to provide alternatives to Republican initiatives.
When it comes to the budget, the House Democrats’ alternative includes nearly $500 million more for K-12 education. Democrats say their budget ensures no school loses money with the school funding formula and helps restore funding cuts made during the recession.
But Ways and Means chair Tim Brown says the Democratic budget also essentially shuts off funding to the state’s school voucher program.
“It throws over nine thousand children of low-income choice out, under the bus, literally,” Brown said. “They cannot go to the place that is best for them.”
But Pelath says the state needs to shift focus back to students in the public school system.
“Forget about the parents, forget about the teachers and our politics about ‘This interest group wants that or this interest group wants something else,’” Pelath said, “it’s about these kids and what’s going on in the classrooms. They can’t take it anymore.”
The budget also included a progressive tax cut for Hoosiers earning less than $200,000 per year and another $200 million for local communities to invest in capital projects. A 65-31 vote killed the measure.