Michelle Davis: State budget prioritizes K-12 education

Educating the next generation of Hoosiers is critical to our state’s future.

Indiana continues to prioritize our students and schools, with half of our state budget dedicated to K-12 education. In our recently passed state budget, lawmakers invested a historic $1.9 billion in new money for K-12 education over the next two years, which includes $600 million annually to raise teacher salaries.

With this additional funding, Indiana schools will be in a strong position to increase starting teacher salaries to $40,000. To ensure educators see this increase, schools are required to dedicate at least 45% of their tuition support to teacher pay. Districts not meeting these benchmarks must report to the Indiana Department of Education or request a waiver.

Our area schools are already meeting these expectations or are nearly there, but it is my hope that as teacher salaries increase throughout the state, our local educators will also see a raise.

Along with providing funding to increase teacher pay, $37.5 million is dedicated to Teacher Appreciation Grants, which reward highly effective and effective educators, and $1 million is provided annually to support the teacher residency grant program.

To help address learning loss caused by COVID-19, we invested $150 million in student learning recovery grants. While learning loss is something many students experience over summer breaks, the prolonged period of online learning due to the pandemic caused some students to fall behind. These grants will help children catch up in their studies and stay on track.

Another big win for students is continued funding for career and technical education programs, which helps prepare them for entering the workforce with the skills and certificates needed to qualify for in-demand jobs. Our budget also increases complexity grants to support students from low-income families, most special education grants and funding for the non-English speaking program.

With historic increases in public school funding, lawmakers also expanded the School Choice Scholarship Program, which removes financial hurdles for families so they can choose the best educational fit for their child. In addition, we created the Indiana Education Scholarship Account to empower parents with special education students to select a school or purchase approved services that meet their unique needs.

These record state investments are on top of a total $2.8 billion in federal pandemic recovery funds Indiana schools will receive.

Our budget makes strong, strategic investments in Hoosier priorities like K-12 education, while also reducing taxpayer-funded debt by over $1 billion, and providing opportunities for future tax cuts and reforms. Visit IndianaHouseRepublicans.com to learn more about our next state budget.

Throughout the coming weeks, in my regular e-newsletter updates I will be highlighting new laws impacting our community and state, and also continuing to recognize and share the stories of local hardworking Hoosiers. Visit in.gov/h58 to subscribe to my e-newsletter and to nominate a hardworking Hoosier.

I am always available to answer questions or help our neighbors. If I can be of assistance to you or your family, please contact me at [email protected] or 317-234-9447.

State Rep. Michelle Davis (R-Whiteland) represents House District 58, which includes a portion of Johnson County. Send comments to [email protected]