Key Bills Move Forward, Pre-K Cut

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Eric Holcomb signed his first bill as governor: HEA 1507. Eric Holcomb signed his first bill as governor: HEA 1507.

Thursday proved to be a busy day at the Statehouse. House Bill 1001, the House version of the biennial budget proposal, will receive its final vote Monday after a second reading yielded few amendments. A bill to provide additional funding for the state's prekindergarten pilot program cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee, but an amendment by Chair Luke Kenley (R-20) reduced considerably the previous amount that would be set aside. Governor Eric Holcomb also signed his first bill in office: HEA 1507, which deals with school bus rental regulations for students with disabilities.

SB 276 now calls for a $4 million increase for the two existing state-funded pre-k programs. It would combine them, and up the $12 million total investment for the components to $16 million, which is less than a previous iteration of the bill.

Expanding the state's pre-k pilot into a full-blown, statewide program has been the focus of many Hoosier business leaders. Governor Eric Holcomb called for the state to double its current $10 million investment this session. Others, such as United Way of Central Indiana Chief Executive Officer Ann Murtlow, want even more allocated for the program. In a statement about Senate Bill 276's changes, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce said:

The goal - for the Indiana Chamber, all advocates of expanded pre-K and many legislators - is to provide as much funding as possible to deliver additional educational opportunities to low-income families. Lawmakers are balancing several critical spending priorities this legislative session. The April revenue forecast will be an important factor, and we’re confident appropriate resources will be dedicated to a pre-K program that addresses the futures of so many young people.

We are pleased that the language in the legislation is still alive, moving forward and supported in the Senate.

A bill that would put the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority in charge of investment relating to Transit Development Districts along the South Shore rail line passed through the House with wide support. Our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana report HB 1144 aims to boost transit-oriented development.

A bill that failed to make it out of the Senate called for the elected position of state superintendent of public instruction be a governor-appointed position. Our partners at Network Indiana/WIBC report an identical bill passed in the House could mean the concept could potentially be revived in the Senate -- if the House language is tweaked.

Several key upcoming deadlines set up what will be an active week at the Statehouse. Monday is the final day for a 3rd reading of House bills in the House and Tuesday is the last day Senate bills can receive a third reading in the Senate.

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