Holcomb Calls for Speeded-Up Pension Payments to Free up Money for Teacher Pay

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Holcomb Calls for Speeded-Up Pension Payments to Free up Money for Teacher Pay

Governor says in State of the State proposal will wait until next year's budget session

(INDIANAPOLIS) - For a second straight year, Governor Holcomb is proposing to free up money for teachers by paying down pension debt.

In his State of the State address, Holcomb announced he'll ask next year's legislature to pour an extra quarter-billion dollars into the Teachers Retirement Fund. That will give budgeters an extra $50 million a year to work with for the next five years, with a smaller windfall beyond that from the pension fund's expanded investments.

Last year, legislators adopted Holcomb's proposal to pay off local pension liabilities. The governor boasts schools made good on pledges to steer the savings to teachers. The new proposal centers on state liabilities, and involves payments the state would have to make anyway. The money comes from state forecasters' prediction last month that the current budget will take in $260 million more than originally expected.

As with last year's proposal, there's no direct order to spend the money on teachers. The money would be available to increase school funding overall, with schools encouraged to use the extra money to address teacher pay. Holcomb notes a commission he appointed last year will announce its teacher pay recommendations later this year.

Holcomb declared the state of the state "has never been stronger," pointing to the lowest unemployment rate since 2001, and announcing from the rostrum in the House chamber that Fiat-Chrysler will invest another $400 million in its Kokomo plant. He says Toyota will make an announcement of its own at its Princeton plant later this week.

Holcomb made a pitch for what could be the hardest sell to legislators from the agenda he announced last month: a requirement that any phone use while driving be hands-free. The invited guests in the House balcony included an Indianapolis couple who each lost a leg last year when their motorcycles were sideswiped by a minivan driver who was looking at her phone.

Holcomb notes 21 states already have hands-free laws. He says distracted driving more than triples the odds of a crash, a risk he calls "unacceptable and avoidable."

Bills have just two weeks left to get through committee. So far, the hands-free bill hasn't been set for a hearing.

Holcomb also announced the creation of an adoption unit within the Department of Child Services, with a goal of making sure children who have been taken away from neglectful or abusive parents find a permanent new home in less than a year.

Gov. Eric Holcomb (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)

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