INDIANAPOLIS — At the statehouse, the General Assembly is trying to wrap up its work for the year. And one of the last things they will vote on is Indiana's budget for the next two years.
The legislative session is almost over, and lawmakers found out just days ago they had an extra $2 billion to spend. The long-term economic damage from the pandemic was not as bad as feared.
Here are six things that will impact you in this budget:
1. Teacher Pay
Teachers have been calling for higher pay ever since the massive Red for Ed rally at the statehouse in November 2019. Now, they may be getting it.
The budget sets aside the $600 million a year that the governor's Teacher Pay Commission recommended. It also requires every school district to spend 45% of their state funding on teacher pay.
2. Other School Funding
About half of that extra $2 billion the state will spend is going to education.
It means big funding increases for traditional K-12 schools at least for the next two years.
3. Private School Vouchers
The budget also gives wealthier people to the voucher program even more than what republicans initially wanted.
the plan would make taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools available to households with an income of up to $145,000 a year for a family of four.
4. New Tax on E-Cigarettes
The budget deal does not have the cigarette tax increase that was part of the original budget in the house. But the new deal does include a new tax on e-cigarettes — so vapers would have to pay more.
5. Paying Down Debt
The budget would spend about $1 billion to pay state debts early and expand the state's rainy day fund.
6. High on the Hog
Some may call it "Pork Barrell Spending," but the budget proposal sets aside $50 million to replace the legendary Swine Barn at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
In its place will be an enclosed building that can piggyback on the state fair with year-round events.