Legislators approved the state’s two-year, $30 billion budget early Saturday morning. The most important initiative debated during the 2013 session, House Bill (HB)1001 contains proposals advocated for by Senate Democrats, including increased local road funding, additional resources to address back-logged maintenance and building projects for the state’s public universities, and an appropriation for statewide programs for community corrections.
However, a number of Senate Democrats were dissatisfied with the budget’s lack of action on combating the state’s unemployment rate and unequal support for the state’s public education system as reasons to not support the budget. The approved budget includes the following:
Roads and Infrastructure
Throughout the session, Senate Democrats argued that rebuilding the state’s aging infrastructure would inject vital funding into local communities and reduce the cost of doing business for Hoosier companies. The budget diverts 1 percent of the sales tax and use tax for the General Fund to the Motor Vehicle Highway Funds – directing over $100 million in additional funding to local units each year. The proposal also creates the Major Moves 2020 Trust Fund, appropriating $200 million each year to be used for major highway expansion projects.
Cut in the previous two budgets, Senate Democrats pushed to fully restore funding for Indiana schools. While K-12 funding increases 2 percent over 2013 levels for 2014 and 1 percent in 2015, compared to 2011 funding, 183 schools will receive less in 2015 than they received in 2011. That’s means more than half the state’s schools will receive less funding in 2015 than they had four years earlier.
The state’s institutions of higher education receive $215 million to fund new university building projects. The budget also allocates $66 million per year in the form of incentives for universities that meet certain performance metrics set out by the Commission on Higher Education.
After nearly four months, the General Assembly declined to take action on enacting the federal health care reform in a way that works for Hoosiers. Since the onset of the legislative session, Senate Democrats have brought to light the possibility of creating 30,000 new jobs, injecting billions of federal dollars into local communities and providing more than 400,000 uninsured working Hoosiers with medical services through the enactment of health care reform.
Language included in the budget bill, HB 1001, transfers $250M in FY 14 to the Medicaid Contingency and Reserve Account. HB 1001 also provides that FSSA may not implement a waiver or Medicaid state plan until they have developed a sustainable financing plan for a Medicaid state plan amendment or waiver and plan has been reviewed by State Budget Committee. In addition, HB 1001 authorizes the governor, with budget committee review, to negotiate with the federal government to receive Medicaid block grants.