Holcomb starts new term, says state clawing back

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb speaks after being sworn in during an inaugural ceremony at the Indiana State Museum, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s governor has proposed a modest increase in school funding for the next two years and restoring cuts to state universities ordered when tax revenues plunged early in the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposal from Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb presented Wednesday to state legislators would increase K-12 school funding by 2% during the first year and 1% the second year of the new budget that would start in July.

That would mean about $377 million more for schools over those years, although the governor proposes spending even more to pay cash for new building projects and pay off state construction project loans early.

The Holcomb administration ordered a 7% reduction in state university funding and 15% spending cuts for state agencies as officials worried last spring about steep drops in tax revenue.

State tax collections have largely stabilized and Holcomb’s top budget advisers said the proposal largely restores the state agency cuts and includes a 1% increase in university funding during each budget year.

Democratic legislators said they believed more money should be directed to boosting the state’s lagging teacher pay and assisting programs such as food banks and home health care services.

The Republican-dominated Legislature will debate the spending plan over the next several months.

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