State budget set for final vote

2011-04-28T20:15:00Z 2011-04-28T21:24:33Z State budget set for final voteBy Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com

INDIANAPOLIS | The Indiana General Assembly is set to give final approval Friday to a two-year, $28 billion state budget that does not increase taxes and is projected to leave Indiana with a $1.07 billion surplus by June 2013.

House Bill 1001 increases statewide education funding compared to 2011, but most Northwest Indiana schools will see their state funding remain the same or be reduced by a new school funding formula.

The current formula provides extra funds to school corporations with declining enrollments in order to maintain services and facilities. Under the new formula, more funds would go to growing schools.

For example, state funding for Gary Community School Corp. is set to drop from $94.2 million this year to $76.6 million in 2012 and $69.3 million in 2013.

Democrats attending a House-Senate conference committee on the budget Thursday night said the proposed reductions in education funding, along with future cuts likely necessary due to new charter schools and private school vouchers, are unacceptable.

But Republicans, who have a majority in the House and Senate, said the new formula is fair because more money follows the child.

The budget is exempt from usually strict legislative germaness rules, so it tends to become a catch-all for other legislative provisions.

Also included in the 271-page proposal is a taxpayer refund if state reserves exceed 10 percent of revenue, creation of a scholarship program for high school students who graduate early, a freeze on legislator salaries, automatic fines for a legislative walkout and prohibition of collective bargaining for state employees.

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