STATE HOUSE–Democrats say it’s not enough and it’s not soon enough. Gov. Holcomb’s proposal during the State of the State address to allow school districts to raise teacher pay, starting in 2021, is getting a thumbs down from Democrat representatives, like Rep. Carey Hamilton (Indianapolis), and Dr. Woody Myers, a candidate for governor.
“Overall, I think there is just a lack of bold action with his address tonight,” said Hamilton.
The governor’s teacher pay plan doesn’t force districts to devote the new money to raises.
“Last year, we devoted an unprecedented increase of $763 million new dollars in K-12 education, including paying down $150 million in the Teacher Retirement Fund, which freed up $65 million more a year for teacher pay increases,” said Holcomb. “All of our school corporations have finalized their locally bargained contracts and more
Indiana school districts have raised teacher salaries this year than in any other year in recent history.”
He described his proposal.
“Tonight, I am recommending that in the next budget the General Assembly use an additional $250 million from our surplus and put it toward teacher retirement funds. In turn, $50 million a year will be generated to redirect to teacher pay.”
Hamilton said it’s just not soon enough. She’s disappointed that a bill to use $291 million in newly generated money for teacher pay or education, was shot down already by Republicans, who object to using what they describe as one-time money for long-term spending.
“So, we’re not talking about action this year and we’re talking about a proposal that won’t necessarily affect teacher pay.”
Myers said he believes, as with other proposals in the State of the State, that Holcomb is short-changing teachers, and that it wouldn’t hurt to take action during the current legislative session.
“There’s enough of a ground swell of movement to break the unofficial rule that you can’t open a budget issue in a non-budget year,” he said. Indiana considers and passes a state budget every two years. The next budget session for the general assembly is next year.
Myers said she’s glad that Indiana is considering a ban on cell phone use while driving (except for hands-free devices), but that she believes it’s way late, coming behind many states that have already passed similar laws.
Myers said he believes that Indiana is heading in the right economic direction, but that Holcomb’s actions so far, have benefited only the upper echelon.
“Clearly we’re not one of the states that has adopted an increased minimum wage,” he said. “I dare anybody to find a great way to live successfully on $290 per week.”
He said he wishes Holcomb and the administration should work just as hard on attracting higher-paying jobs as “distribution jobs, where we’ve had the most success”.
PHOTO: Woody Myers on Twitter