Holcomb: Teacher Pay Solution Must Be Sustainable
(INDIANAPOLIS) - Governor Holcomb isn't slamming the door completely on giving teachers more money in the upcoming session --but he says there are a lot of questions to be answered first.
The Indiana State Teachers Association is asking for what it calls a $75 million "down payment" on a promised fix to the salary structure. Holcomb says he needs to know more than what he's heard in news reports. He's said he wants to boost Indiana to the top three in the Midwest in teacher pay in five years, but he notes he's said repeatedly he wants a sustainable solution, not a piecemeal approach.
The ISTA says if Indiana's going to meet Holcomb's five-year target for reaching the top three, it can't wait to get started. Holcomb argues it has. Legislators approved Holcomb's request to pay off local pension liabilities in this year's budget, freeing up $150 million on top of what schools were awarded by the state funding formula. Schools were urged, though not required, to use that money for raises, and Holcomb says local superintendents "kept their word." He says teachers are getting raises in all but five districts, and three of those five haven't reported their numbers yet.
A commission Holcomb appointed to study the issue is scheduled to deliver its recommendations in the spring, most likely putting it after the legislature's March adjournment.
Gary Senator Eddie Melton, one of three Democrats seeking the nomination to run against Holcomb next year, says he'll introduce a bill calling for a $200 million injection into a teacher grant fund, instead of some of the building projects Holcomb has suggested paying off. Indiana doesn't write a new budget until 2021, and legislative leaders have said they don't want to reopen it early for anything except one-time expenditures.
Gov. Eric Holcomb (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)