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BizVoice/Indiana Chamber – May/June 2016

Indiana General Assembly Analysis


When the disastrous ISTEP test implementation in 2015 was revealed, it dwarfed most

other education policies on the table. Though a few bills were able to make it through, it

was primarily a year of treading water.


Scholarships for prospective top-of-their-class teachers. A second application period

for voucher students, ensuring that the money truly follows the student if they change

schools during the year. Teachers and schools will not be negatively impacted by the 2014-

2015 ISTEP test results, but all-important accountability remains in place and a summer

panel – with hopefully the Indiana Chamber at the table – will determine a more suitable

testing future for our state’s students.


Not fully recognizing that ISTEP needed a rebranding effort more than the state

starting from scratch again. Expanding state-sponsored preschool beyond the select pilot

counties when the need has been demonstrated.


“The current form of ISTEP as we know it will sunset July 1, 2017. There

will be a statewide assessment moving forward but the type, name and format will be

determined by the 23-person panel created by the 2016 legislation,” explains Caryl

Auslander, Indiana Chamber vice president of education and workforce development. “The

federal Every Student Succeeds Act states that there must be a statewide high-stakes

assessment but allows for more local flexibility. All these issues will be discussed by the

panel with a recommendation provided by the end of 2016.

“We are pleased that Senate Pro Tem David Long has stated publicly that he hopes that

additional expansion to the pre-K program will happen in 2017. The real question will

be how revenues and our state budget will look then. We are pushing for statewide

expansion, but any sort of growth in the program would be a win for Hoosier children,”

she notes.



Hits, Misses and Looking Ahead to 2017


The number one legislative priority in

2016 for the Indiana Chamber and its

business members was enhanced funding

for roads and transportation infrastructure.


Short-term funding totaling $1.1

billion. Local governments will see about

a $600 million two-year infusion of funds

while able to exercise new authority to

raise wheel taxes or registration fees. The

bulk of these new funds, $430 million,

will be local option income tax (LOIT)

reserve account funds that locals already

had coming to them. The state will see

about $328 million in supplemental funds

over the same period drawn from state

reserves and Major Moves 2020 monies.


Mechanisms for longer-term

funding. Legislators’ election-year

aversion to the tax increases necessary

for a sustained roads program and a

threatened veto from Gov. Pence to such a

move sealed the fate for anything farther

reaching and more forward thinking.


“We expect that long-term

funding methods will be somewhat easier

to address in a non-election year during

the budget-writing session. And the

commitment legislators made to do just

that makes the ultimate outcome look

very positive. All four legislative caucuses

and the Governor’s office were engaged

in 2016 and pledged to continue working

toward solutions. That’s an excellent

sign moving forward,” concludes Indiana

Chamber President Kevin Brinegar.

House Education Chairman Bob Behning and Indiana Chamber lobbyist Caryl Auslander

discuss where bills stand in the final days of the 2016 session.