In his first State of the State, Governor Holcomb quoted Abraham Lincoln: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” This week, lawmakers discussed and acted on issues that are crucial to creating a brighter future for Indiana: A long-term solution for infrastructure to keep people and products moving, and expanding early childhood education (ECE) – an ‘early stage investment’ for an economy that runs on talent.
As one of just a few remaining states without publicly-funded pre-K, Hoosiers can learn a lot from the experience of others: Numerous studies – going back decades, from urban and rural communities across the U.S. – show clear connections between early learning and educational achievement, health, employment and earnings (and savings in K-12 remediation, criminal justice and social welfare spending). We won’t dive into the data here – let’s just review the ABCs of ECE:
A is for Advocacy.
B is for Budget (Impact).
C is for Capacity.
Breaking down the budget, Pre-K and other education issues:
Governor Holcomb and House GOP leaders have laid out a budget that expands the pre-K pilot, begins a billion-dollar commitmentto innovation and entrepreneurship programs, and supports long-term revenue plans for roads and bridges, direct flights to Indiana airports and the need for to double track the South Shore rail line to Chicago, to name a few highlights.
The Senate version for Pre-K expansion, SB276 Early Education Grant Pilot Program, aimed at supporting low income families with assistance for quality pre-k programs. It requires academic curriculum and parental participation standards for qualification. This bill is being held for two weeks by request of the author. Indy Chamber board chair Brian Sullivan testified for a statewide pre-K expansion, emphasizing the long-term economic and social value of ECE programs.
The House version of Early Childhood Education, HB1004, will be heard next Tuesday, January 31st at 8:30am in the House Chamber. Board Chair Brian Sullivan will be present to testify on behalf of the Indy Chamber and Chamber board member, Connie Bond Stuart will be providing testimony on behalf of PNC on the Chamber’s Return on Investment report which was done in collaboration with the Glick Foundation, United Way of Central Indiana and the City of Indianapolis. Make sure to follow @allIN4PreK on Twitter.
The Senate and the House have also been hard at work moving other education bills, including one requiring criminal background checks for teachers at the beginning of the school year. HB1079 Teacher Licenses states that employees would have to pay for a background check once every five years.
HB1281 Various Higher Education Matters is focused on increasing college enrollment by resolving various funding issues. This bill plans to make the 529 Education Savings Plan more accessible in heading the Senate floor.
Another education bill that the Chamber supports is HB1005 Superintendent of Public Instruction, which abolishes the office of the state superintendent of public instruction on January 10, 2021. The bill further states that after January 10, 2021, the governor shall appoint a secretary of education. Repeals a provision that a candidate for the office of state superintendent of public instruction must have resided in Indiana for at least two years.
What else is happening?
HB1002 allocates $1.2B on average per year toward road infrastructure maintenance, an additional $775 million per year to maintain existing local roads, indexes the gas tax and other user fees to inflation after an initial 10-cent increase; it also includes a $15 registration fee and $150 electric car registration fee. It requires INDOT to further study tolling I-65 and I-70, transfer the remaining sales tax on gasoline from the General Fund to the State Highway Fund. It further provides that all money from the $15 registration fee will go to matching funds or towards local funding. Indy Chamber CEO Michael Huber testified the bill’s characterization as a revenue recovery. Huber stressed that we must continue to make Indiana an attractive place to do business, in order to accomplish this there has to be a stable continuous revenue stream for upkeep of infrastructure. This bill passed 8-5.
And finally, among other issues of interest:
In order to support important priorities for the business community at the statehouse, our Political Action Committee is thankful for people and organizations like Andrew Mattingly, Chief Operating Officer at FORUM Credit Union, the first member of our Congressional Club in 2017! Help us advocate for you at the statehouse by contributing here.
Transit Hearing – January 30th: Will your voice be heard?