INDIANAPOLIS — The Hoosier Families First Fund doesn’t appear to have much of a future in the Indiana House, at least in its current form.
During the House Ways and Means Committee hearing Tuesday, lawmakers stripped the language about the fund from SB2.
Last week, the Senate approved the legislation in a 46-1 vote. The measure would establish the Hoosier Families First Fund, appropriating $45 million from the state general fund for fiscal year 2023.
The fund was earmarked for the Department of Child Services, Family and Social Services Administration, Indiana Department of Health and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security to fund existing programs and new programs for certain purposes.
House lawmakers had other ideas, however. During their meeting Tuesday, committee members removed the fund from the legislation and suggested they would discuss its future later.
Some lawmakers had expressed concerns that the $45 million fund wasn’t enough to meet the needs of Hoosiers, while others believed it needed to be part of future budget discussions.
Lawmakers instead approved an amendment adding a $225 automatic taxpayer refund to the measure and voted in favor of adding additional adoption resources. Amendment 6 essentially makes the language in SB2 mirror that of House Bill 1001, which passed last week in a 93-2 vote.
Rep. Timothy Brown, committee chairman, described the amendment as “parallel language” to HB 1001. It adds the $225 refund and allocates the $45 million to other alternatives, such as nurse/family partnerships and the Child Care and Development Fund, among other things.
It also includes language that contraceptives can’t be sold in schools and adds some language on Medicaid postpartum care. It sets the adoption tax credit at $10,000.
The amendment passed with a voice vote. A separate amendment to repeal the gas tax failed.
The $225 payments were first proposed by Gov. Eric Holcomb as part of his inflation relief plan. While Holcomb’s plan has enjoyed clear support in the House, the Senate’s version of an inflation relief plan doesn’t include the $225 payment.
Instead, the Senate plan would suspend the sales tax on residential utilities for six billing cycles. The measure would also cap the sales tax on gasoline at 29.5 cents a gallon.
The Senate Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy is scheduled to take up HB 1001 Wednesday morning.