Indiana's legislative leaders say school funding remains a top priority as the latest revenue forecast indicates an additional $2 billion available in the next state budget, and education groups are urging them to "go big" sending more money to K-12 schools.
The state's largest teachers union says it wants lawmakers to take action on recommendations made by the governor's compensation commission to boost teacher pay. The commission's report says an investment of at least $600 million is needed to make Indiana teacher pay competitive with surrounding states.
Indiana State Teachers Association president Keith Gambill said it's time for lawmakers to "make good" on the report's findings, so schools have the funding available to improve teachers' compensation.
"We have to have greater funding from the state. And we now know that we have the dollars to do it," he said.
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Hamilton Southeastern Education Association President Janet Chandler said there isn't time to wait, as young people pursue other careers, and more teachers consider leaving the profession and the state.
She said the revenue forecast means lawmakers have funding to help boost teacher salaries in a fiscally responsible way.
"The moment is now – so like, what's holding us back from doing that? What's holding us back from putting more dollars toward public schools?" she said.
The Indiana School Boards Association is also urging legislators to seize the "golden opportunity" of the unexpectedly high estimate for boosted state revenue. The group said in a statement it wants to see more funding for English language learners, special education, and students in poverty.
Lawmakers have said they aim to have a budget finalized by the end of next week.