The Indiana House and Senate officially passed the state’s next two-year budget early Saturday morning before adjourning for the year.
The new budget calls for funding increases in both road improvements and in education, at both the K-12 and higher education levels.
Indiana District 63 State Representative Mark Messmer says instead of 12 cents of the 18 cent per gallon fuel tax that the state currently collects going towards road improvements, all of the money raised from that fuel tax would be put into road improvements along with about 20 percent of the sales tax on gasoline. Messmer says overhead costs such as BMV operation costs that were previously paid by fuel tax will be paid out of the state’s general fund. He says the change in structure of road funding is long overdue:
Also, the budget sets aside $200 million per year to create the “Major Moves 2020” fund for funding future road improvements and projects across the state, such as the completion of I-69 between Bloomington and Indianapolis.
The budget also calls for increases in K-12 and higher education funding, which are already at their highest funding levels in state history. K-12 schools would get an average 2 percent increase in funding during the budget’s first year and another 1 percent increase in the second year of the budget. There is also $34 million built in to be allotted to high-performing teachers.
Messmer talks about the impact of the increases in both K-12 and higher education funding on students both locally and statewide:
The budget also includes about a 5 percent income tax cut phased in over four years starting in 2015, which is half of the tax cut that Indiana Governor Mike Pence had been pushing for, as well as the elimination of the inheritance tax.