INDIANAPOLIS — At the statehouse, Republicans in the House and Senate came to an agreement on Indiana’s budget for the next two years.
Lawmakers in the House and Senate originally had major differences in how they thought the budget should be written.
Republicans had an extra $1.5 billion to spend after the State Budget Agency released an updated state revenue forecast.
Here are three major things that will impact you in this budget:
School Vouchers Expanded
House Bill 1002, which expands voucher eligibility, was approved in the budget. This means the income threshold to qualify for vouchers will be expanded.
Under the new budget, a family of four can make up to $220,000 a year and still qualify for a voucher. Currently, the income threshold for vouchers is cut off at an income of $166,500.
Traditionally, voucher programs are meant to give low-income families extra support when it comes to tuition and other school related costs.
This expansion will cost the state $500 million.
Democrats call the expansion of vouchers “despicable,” while Republicans say it will improve the state’s education system.
One aspect of the budget that Democrats do support is getting rid of textbook fees. There is a separate line item in the budget that will eliminate the cost of textbooks from both parents and schools.
Income Tax Cut Rate
The budget also speeds up how quickly income taxes will come down for Hoosiers.
Right now, Hoosiers pay a 3.5% income tax. That will be reduced to 2.9% by 2027, two years earlier than the initial plan.
Mental Health Funding Increased
The budget also approves Senate Bill 1, which gives $100 million to fund mental health programs over the next two years.
The original amount set aside for mental health funding in the budget draft was $35 million.
Although the final number is significantly more, the Indiana Behavioral Health Commission determined it would take $130 million to create real changes in Indiana’s mental health system.