Holcomb outlines big spending plans for education, public health and policing in the 2023 budget

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb is seeking several major funding increases in the next state budget, including support for all K-12 textbooks, pay increases for state police troops, and millions more for public health services across the board. the 92 counties.

The Republican governor on Wednesday announced his priorities for the 2023 legislative session, which begins next week at the Statehouse.

Indiana writes its biennial budgets in odd-numbered years during four-month sessions. The state budget writers are likely to release their full plan in April, following the release of the next revenue forecast.

Members of Holcomb’s administration say the increased revenue has put the state in a favorable position to spend more and called the governor’s budget proposal the most comprehensive in terms of how many Hoosiers could benefit from state dollars if lawmakers had given the green light to the requests.

State funding for textbooks

In addition to proposed increases for K-12 tuition support — 6 percent in fiscal year 2024 and another 2 percent in the next fiscal year — Holcomb is asking state lawmakers to ban taxes on textbooks and curriculum materials for Indiana families. Indiana is currently one of only seven states that allows families to charge for textbooks.

Instead, the governor wants Indiana to fully fund those fees for more than 1 million Hoosier students in all public and charter schools, as well as some students in non-public schools.

The move would cost the state about $160 million a year, but only $121 million would be new money. Indiana already has $39 million annually in textbook reimbursement for the 440,000 Hoosier students who qualify for free or reduced lunches.

Under the proposed model, non-public school students who already qualify for textbook reimbursement will continue to benefit from the textbook fee waiver.

Salary increase for the State Police

To bolster the Indiana State Police and other law enforcement officials, Holcomb also proposed raising the starting salary for state troopers to $70,000. The governor’s administration noted that the current starting salary for state officials is $53,690. This is “significantly below” other law enforcement agencies in the state, according to the Indiana State Police Alliance.

The salary increase is expected to cost an additional $36 million annually.

Holcomb is seeking an additional $160 million a year to raise the salaries of other state employees as well. He hopes such a move will help attract and retain more state workers.

New money available for county health initiatives

Ask less than originally suggested by the governor’s Public Health CommissionHolcomb is pursuing $120 million in FY 2024 and another $227 million in FY 2025 to boost public health services statewide.

Stakeholders reduced their initial request to $120 million from $243 million for fiscal 2024 after receiving a lukewarm response from budget authors, proposing a phased approach for distributing the money to counties. In 2025, supporters have asked for the full amount, although Holcomb’s request is still within the recommended threshold.

Approximately 80 percent of that funding is targeted specifically for Indiana’s 92 counties. Under the proposed model, every county would have the option to participate in the state’s program, which is intended to financially support a myriad of public health needs, including personnel, disease prevention, emergency preparedness, 911 services, and child health screenings. children.

A funding formula based on a per capita system and a social vulnerability index has already been developed to determine how much each county can receive. Counties will have a local 20% share to participate.

The program will replace the state’s existing Local Health Maintenance Fund, which is currently funded at only $6.9 million annually.

This story will be updated.

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