If the proposed Education Scholarsip Accounts (ESAs) are included in the state budget bill, they will be the proverbial “camel’s nose under the tent.” Like voucher programs, ESA programs start out small and then grow exponentially, costing millions in taxpayer dollars that should be going to our public schools. 

ICPE Legislation Action Alert 

HB 1001 (Budget Bill) Take Action NOW 

Voucher expansion and ESAs are rolled into the budget bill.

 Where we are now:

  • On Thursday (April 8), the Indiana Senate unveiled their proposed state budget for the next to two years.
  • The items from HB 1005 (voucher eligibility expansion and the creation of Education Savings Accounts) are still in the House budget.
  • We’re hearing the proposed Education Scholarship Accounts may be pared down to a “pilot project” for a limited number of special education students.

What we like about the Senate budget:

  • It appears that they listened to public school districts’ and public-school advocates’ concerns about funding and privatization.
  • State funding for K-12 education would increase $408 million over the next two years. They allocated more than the House K-12 education budget ($378 million) and the Governor’s K-12 education budget ($377 million). Remember, though, that public schools will not receive ALL of anyone’s K-12 budget. Parts of the K-12 budget will go to various forms of vouchers.
  • It increases funding for special education, the complexity index and support for English Language Learners – all of those are sorely needed.
  • It pares back the voucher eligibility proposed in the House budget.
  • It rejects proposed cuts to CTE programs.
  • It keeps virtual charter schools’ funding at the 85% level.

Our concerns:

  • As public school advocates, we will continue to oppose expanding vouchers and creating ESAs, because these programs divert K-12 money from Indiana’s public schools that serve 94 percent of Indiana’s students.
  • The additional K-12 funds in the Senate budget still do not offset the disproportionate increase in funding for vouchers and ESAs.
  • Even if ESAs are reduced to a pilot program just for a limited number of special education students, that is still unacceptable. We all know privatization programs like this have a history of expanding in future legislative sessions and costing more money. And we have concerns about whether ESAs will cover all special education needs and what families will be asked to give up.
  • We continue to be concerned that even with this proposed $408 million increase, Indiana is still not able to provide the teacher pay increase recommended by Governor Holcomb’s Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission.

What will happen in the next two weeks

  • There will be much negotiation over the next two weeks as House and Senate members arrive at a budget that will probably be a mixture of the House and Senate budgets. Things we like and things we dislike will come and go right up until the final hour of the final day, expected to be April 22.
  • The state revenue forecast will come out on April 15. It is expected to be better than previous quarters revenue forecasts and that is good!

What we need you to do now

  1. Contact your own Senator and Representative (Find your legislators), the Speaker of the House (h37@iga.in.gov) , the Governor (https://www.in.gov/gov/ask-eric/)

Tell them:

  • You appreciate the Senate K-12 budget, and urge them to stay at that level – or maybe even more if revenue forecasts are good.
  • Mention other aspects of the Senate budget you appreciate.
  • Urge them to eliminate (or at least minimize) voucher expansions.
  • Tell them that vouchers are diverting money from your public school district. (Use our interactive map to see the amount.) Tell them your school district could use that money to fill many needs, including increasing teacher pay.
  1. Stay connected to our legislative action items between now and April 22. Things will be constantly changing!

Your messages have been making a difference!  Keep it up!

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