Chamber Endorses State-Funded Preschool for Poorest Families
But legislative leaders not committing to anything before revenue forecast
House Speaker Brian Bosma (left) and Senate President Pro Tem David Long. (WIBC.com photo: Eric Berman)
The Indiana Chamber is adding its endorsement to state-funded preschool, but legislative leaders are warning the next state budget could be tight.
House Republicans have already announced they want to explore preschool funding, and Chamber president Kevin Brinegar says it's among the business group's top priorities -- he says making sure all students begin kindergarten with adequate preparation is critically important to keeping them on track to graduate ready for college or the workforce.
But House and Senate leaders told the Chamber's annual legislative preview luncheon they'll be watching closely when a new state budget forecast comes out next month. Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) says the implementation of the federal health care law creates a continuing wild card -- he says no one really knows how much it will cost the states, but even supporters agree the cost will be significant. And Long says state revenue from other sources is a source of concern as well.
Governor-elect Mike Pence has voiced a similarly bearish assessment of the economy, proposing to limit spending growth to 1.5% in each year of the two-year budget. And Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) have already expressed wariness about the biggest new line item Pence has proposed, a 10% income tax cut.
Bosma says the state's top tax-cutting priority is to keep the promises already made in laws passed this year to slash the corporate income tax and abolish the inheritance tax. He says anything beyond that must be sustainable over the long term. And he says he's concerned the state's revenue sources are getting out of balance, with sales taxes now comprising nearly 60% of what the state takes in.