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,”
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.