As the Indiana General Assembly’s long, budget-writing session kicked off last week, state lawmakers braved frigid temperatures by filing bills at a frantic pace. Over 500 bills had been introduced before the weekend adjournment, with common themes and shared priorities beginning to emerge.
Governor Mike Pence’s budget team kicked off the four-month process of hammering out the next two years of spending with a Thursday presentation of the Administration’s proposed budget – one that includes an additional $200 million for K-12 education, $300 million for highway expansion and $84 million for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation’s (IEDC) Regional Cities Initiative, the Indy Chamber’s top legislative priority in 2015. The Regional Cities Initiative is an important tool for Indiana’s metropolitan hubs to enhance quality of life, compete for business investment, and retain and attract talent.
Following last year’s unprecedented progress regarding early childhood education, a House proposal to expand a pilot program earned bipartisan sponsorship. Another early bill addressed appointment of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and legislative leaders gathered Thursday evening to discuss the complex school funding formula and how to best balance the needs of growing suburban districts and large urban systems like Indianapolis Public Schools.
Multiple Senate proposals to increase production limits for microbrewers in Indiana’s burgeoning craft beer industry were introduced and should receive consideration by the Public Policy committee in the coming weeks.
Stay tuned for our next update following this week’s bill filing deadlines, with a full rundown of all priority legislation being tracked at the Statehouse by your Indy Chamber advocacy team.