Legislature Adjourns After Passing Budget, Gambling Bills

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The budget and gambling bills now head to Governor Holcomb's desk. The budget and gambling bills now head to Governor Holcomb's desk.

The Indiana General Assembly has adjourned for the year, five days ahead of schedule. The legislature adjourned Wednesday evening after approving, among other bills, a two-year, $34.6 billion budget, along with a much-debated gambling bill involving casinos in Gary and Terre Haute and legalizing sports betting. 

Republicans celebrated the passage of the budget, which increases K-12 education funding by nearly $800 million, including more than $37 annually for teacher appreciation grants. The budget also includes Governor Eric Holcomb's recommendation to pay $150 million to an unfunded pension liability for teachers, which will provide $70 million in annual savings for school budgets. The legislature is encouraging, though not mandating, schools to direct that savings to increasing teacher pay.

Democrats were critical of the opposing party for not directly funding teacher raises, according to our partners at WIBC. You can view the final budget proposal by clicking here.

Holcomb released the following statement upon adjournment Wednesday:

I want to commend Speaker Bosma and Senator Bray for their extraordinary leadership, and a job well done to their members and staffs.

With the investments we’ll make over the next two years, we’ll be able to make our strong state, even more so.

We balanced our budget for the eighth straight time and protected our AAA credit rating. We’re making historic investments in K-12 education, expanding our school safety efforts, and implementing all the recommendations to improve our child services. We are strengthening our already transformational road and rail programs, doubling down on our Next Level Jobs programs, and connecting more Hoosiers to affordable broadband service. We passed a bias crimes law and modernized our tax code. We’ll help more babies reach their first birthdays. Indiana is on a roll.

I am proud of what was accomplished this legislative session and the way it was accomplished — by working together collaboratively.

Legislators in the House and Senate were able to reach a compromise on the Senate Bill 552, which was approved by both chambers within minutes of each other Wednesday night. WIBC reports the bill legalizes sports wagering in casinos and via smartphone, and also allows live-dealer gambling at Harrah's Hoosier Park Racing & Casino in Anderson and Indiana Grand Racing & Casino in Shelbyville in 2020, one year earlier than previously planned.

The bill also approves a casino in Terre Haute, if supported by voters, and moves the Majestic Star casino in Gary to a new location in the city's downtown. The move frees up the lakefront at Buffington Harbor for the city's plans to turn the area into an intermodal hub.

The new owners of Majestic Star, Indianapolis-based Spectacle Entertainment, will be required to pay a $20 million fee to move the casino, down from the originally-proposed $100 million. Also, the operators of the Gary and Terre Haute casinos will have to compensate the cities of Evansville, French Lick, East Chicago, Hammond and Michigan City for an expected drop in business due to the relocated casinos.

You can read more about the bill from our partners at WIBC by clicking here.

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