Indiana Senate Republicans have released their priorities for the 2019 legislative session. Senate President Pro Tempore Rod Bray (R-Martinsville) says their focus will be on maintaining a balanced budget, supporting education, and improving school safety, among others.
The additional priorities for Republicans this year include protecting vulnerable children and helping Hoosiers find good jobs.
"Given the revenue forecast and the budget needs of the Department of Child Services, there’s no question that we have many challenges before us," Bray says in a news release. "Nevertheless, Senate Republicans stand ready to do the hard work that needs to be done in order to advance the Hoosier state, and we look forward to the session ahead."
Bray broke down the priorities as the Indiana General Assembly began the new session:
Maintain an honestly balanced budget
- Like all hardworking Hoosiers that balance their checkbooks, Senate Republicans know that responsible government means making tough choices and spending within your means, and will work to pass a two-year state budget that funds priorities and protects reserves.
Protect vulnerable children
- Due in part to the drug epidemic, DCS staff and resources are being stretched too thin when it comes to protecting children. Senate Republicans will support operational reforms and the appropriate level of new funding for DCS.
- With more than half of the state’s General Fund devoted to K-12 education, Indiana spends a higher percentage of its budget on education than all but two other states. Senate Republicans will maintain that strong commitment to students, teachers and schools in the next budget.
Improve school safety
- Protecting schools from violence takes vigilance on the part of every Hoosier. At the Statehouse, Senate Republicans will work on school-safety improvements based on the recommendations made to Gov. Holcomb last year, including allowing Secured School Safety Grants to be used for mental and behavioral health services.
Advance workforce development
- To address Indiana’s long-term skills gap, the General Assembly has implemented many workforce-development reforms in recent years. In 2019, Senate Republicans will focus on changes to ensure our existing training programs result in meaningful career paths for all Hoosiers.
Senate Democrats unveiled their legislative priorities in November, which focus on increasing teacher pay, protecting coverage for pre-existing conditions and legalizing medical marijuana, as well as a continued push for a hate crimes law and legislation to stop gerrymandering. Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane released a statement after the announcement of the Republican caucus’ priorities, saying the party has a "lack of vision."
"The announcement of nothing visionary keeps our state behind our neighbors in teacher pay and leaves additional treatment for medical struggles off the table," said Lanane. "Maintain an honestly balanced budget? This a constitutional requirement that doesn’t need to be a legislative priority. Instead of standing up for the real needs of Hoosiers, the supermajority is rehashing old speaking points."
You can read Lanane’s full statement by clicking here.