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Legislative Updates Archive

The legislative session focuses in on the school funding formula and RFRA

At the outset of the 2015 session, legislative leadership made it clear that this would be the education session. To this point the session has lived up to its billing.  Much debate has centered on the  $31.3 billion House budget and the state’s single largest budget expenditure: the roughly $7 billion for K-12 funding each of the next two years.

This week the Senate School Funding Subcommittee had their turn at the formula and heard testimony on public charter schools, vouchers, career/technical education (CTE) and performance funding. The committee, in particular, heard from 11 superintendents from around the state on the need to increase funding in an equitable way for all of the state’s schools.

Despite a proposed $469 million increase in overall  K-12 education funding, many districts will see a decrease in funding. The Indy Chamber is strongly advocating for a more gradual shift in the complexity index to lessen the drastic fiscal impact on districts like Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) and other urban schools throughout the state. Under the proposed House formula, IPS would see funding reduced between $18 million-$34 million annually. We will look for the April revenue returns to see how it will affect legislators’ thinking around school funding.

We expect the House Judiciary hearing on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act or RFRA (SB 101) to be one of the most contentious of the entire 2015 session. A coalition of business, civic and religious organizations, including the Indy Chamber and Cummins has formed to oppose the bill as an unnecessary distraction. The coalition is concerned that RFRA would expose private businesses to an increased risk of costly litigation. Furthermore, this legislation threatens to undo years of progress we have made in positioning Indianapolis as a welcoming community, particularly by nullifying our locally enacted Human Rights Ordinance to protect citizens against discrimination in employment and housing.

We expect several amendments to be offered to address the various concerns of the central Indiana business community and encourage you to contact your representative in the House to oppose SB 101 or attend the hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Monday March 16th at 9:30 in the House Chamber. 

Join the conversation on Twitter @IndyChamber! For questions regarding the Indy Chamber’s advocacy efforts, please contact Vice President of Government Relations Mark Fisher at mfisher@indychamber.com or 317.464.2291.

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