INDIANAPOLIS –Today, the Indiana General Assembly sent House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1001, the state’s biennial appropriation bill, to the governor. The expenditures authorized in the bill were hailed and critiqued by State Senator Karen Tallian (D-Portage), the ranking Democrat on the budget-writing committee in the Senate.
“Two items in this budget will have a long-lasting, positive impact on all of Northwest Indiana: state support for the South Shore expansion, and authorization for the Purdue Northwest Bioscience Building.
“The $6 million state pledge for the South Shore ‘double tracking’ project is a huge benefit for the region. This project will provide a more reliable and rapid transportation option,” Tallian said. “Additionally, the investment in the Purdue Bioscience Innovation Building is a sizeable project representing our region’s growing campus.”
“However, I was disappointed in many aspects of this budget that ultimately led me to vote ‘no.’
“The state budget is often referred to as a list of state priorities. If that is the case, it appears that public schools were not on the top of the list. This budget funds our public schools with recession-era increases, while increasing voucher funding $21 million and removing any transparency in this funding.
“Aside from raising funds for private schools through the voucher program, millions more dollars are being funneled to the Scholarship Granting Organization tax credit so large-dollar donors can receive a lucrative tax credit for helping to fund a pipeline for more vouchers in our state.
“This budget also significantly increases funds for the Management Performance Hub (MPH), a big brother-style state agency that collects data. This agency supposedly drives public policy, yet almost no one in the Statehouse can adequately explain what policy decisions have been derived from the MPH.
“On a cynical note, about the legislative process, there are things here I just can’t understand. Something is wrong with the system that allows one person to put things in the budget that have not been vetted,” Tallian said. “This budget was released at 2:00 am and contained many weird items never before discussed, such as an increase in the state minimum price for a carton of cigarettes, as well as language on lethal injection drugs. It may have been prudent to have proper hearings on those, and many other items.”