INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s governor has signed off on a plan for spending $291 million in unexpected state tax revenue on college campus construction projects after legislative Republicans rebuffed Democratic attempts to direct at least some of that money toward school funding.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s office said he signed the bill Wednesday. Holcomb had first proposed in July the plan for using the extra money toward paying cash for several building projects that were part of the two-year state budget adopted in April, rather than borrowing money.
Holcomb said in a statement that the plan ensures the state remains “remains the fiscal envy of the nation by saving Hoosier taxpayers more than $135 million in borrowing costs.”
Republicans who dominate the Legislature have repeatedly defended the 2.5% per-year increase in school funding included in the current state budget. They say it provides significant progress toward boosting teacher pay and protects the state’s $2.3 billion in cash reserves.
Republicans unanimously rejected a variety of Democratic proposals to increase school funding as the bill was passed in the first three weeks of the 10-week legislative session — and after several thousand teachers joined a boisterous Statehouse rally in November citing stagnant salaries as a top concern.
The construction projects included in the spending plan include $73 million toward a new veterinary hospital at Purdue University and various building plans at Indiana University, Ball State University, Indiana State University, the University of Southern Indiana and Ivy Tech State College in Columbus.