House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers, left) and Senate Appropriations Chairman Ryan Mishler (R-Bremen)
(Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)

Legislature Wraps Up Session (for Now) With Passage of $37B Budget

(INDIANAPOLIS) — Legislators have adjourned for the summer after passing a new $37.4 billion two-year state budget.

The budget passed with unprecedented bipartisan support, from all but three Senate Democrats
and two House Republicans. An unexpected gusher of $2 billion in new money from a
revised economic forecast, on top of $3 billion from President Biden’s pandemic relief package,
enabled budget negotiators to check off box after box on both parties’ budget wish lists, starting
with a $1 billion funding boost for schools that will meet a long-promised goal of raising teacher
pay to be competitive with other Midwestern states,.

Legislators in both parties echoed Governor Holcomb in calling the budget “transformative.” The
budget uses $500 million in federal money to establish the READI regional redevelopment
fund Holcomb proposed in his State of the State address, matching a just-passed economic
development fund in Ohio. Money from the American Rescue Plan will also pay for broadband
connectivity, hiking and biking trails, police body cameras, and water treatment plants. State
money will pay off state debt and pension liabilities, and fund construction projects including a
new State Fair swine barn and a combined Indiana School for the Deaf and Blind.

House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) credits years of cautious budgeting with putting Indiana
in position to capitalize on the sudden burst of cash. He says Indiana is continuing that policy by
pouring billions into one-time spending he says will yield benefits for years to come, and rebuilding
Indiana’s cash reserves after dipping into that money to get through the pandemic recession last
year.

The budget caps a session which began with unanimous approval of a police reform law.
Legislators also enacted a tax on e-cigarettes, new limits on aggressive panhandlers, and grant
funds for local health initiatives and for restaurants struggling to stay afloat.

Legislators killed bills which would have created new ID requirements for absentee ballots, and
required the IndyGo bus system to pay for relocating utility lines to make way for the new east-
west Blue Line.

The legislature is technically only in recess, not adjourned. The House and Senate will return later
this year to draw and approve new districts for themselves and Indiana’s nine U.S. House seats,
The Census Bureau missed its deadline for delivering the population data needed for redistricting —
Huston says he expects legislators to reconvene “September-ish.” Legislators passed a bill
extending their legal deadline to adjourn from next Thursday to November 15, to allow them to get
to work on the maps as soon as census numbers arrive.

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