Indiana is expected to have about $200 million more to spend over the next two years than previously thought. However, Indiana Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Taxation and Public Finance Bill Waltz tells Inside INdiana Business not to expect lawmakers to act like "their pockets are bulging." The Indiana State Budget Agency’s latest forecast suggests a .7 percent increase in expected revenue. Waltz says, while that money likely won’t impact the larger infrastructure improvement plans, it could boost smaller spending measures like an expansion of the state-funded pre-k pilot program.
The agency says most of the revenue increase is expected to come from individual income taxes. Waltz says, while he "did not expect a huge increase," the $200 million figure is a bit higher than he expected.
The On My Way Pre-K program currently covers about 2,300 students in five Indiana counties. Chamber Chief Executive Officer Kevin Brinegar has called on at least $10 million in additional funding this budget cycle, but says some coalition partners would like to see up to $50 million allocated for an expansion.
All IN 4 Pre-K, a business coalition that includes companies such as PNC Bank, Eli Lilly and Co. (NSYE: LLY) and Cummins (NYSE: CMI) is among those calling for more funding. The group says expanding the program is an "educational imperative for the state." Demand was so strong for the program in its first year that United Way of Central Indiana Vice President of Public Policy Andrew Cullen told Inside INdiana Business Television last year that 3,500 applicants were turned away.
Last week, the Indiana Senate passed its version of a two-year state budget proposal. Senator Luke Kenley (R-20) said the proposal would increase K-12 funding and expand the pre-k pilot program to all 92 counties while maintaining $1.8 billion in reserves.