(STATEHOUSE) Feb. 15, 2005 -House Bill 1001, the biennium budget
for the State of Indiana, authored by Ways and Means Chairman Jeff
Espich (R-Uniondale), will balance the state's books for the first
time in ten years and does not contain a tax increase. The proposed
budget will get rid of Indiana's current structural deficit of $526.6
million by the end of fiscal year 2007 without any borrowing, bookkeeping
maneuvers, or the use of other dedicated funds, as has occurred
in previous years.
"We faced a challenge in coming up with a plan to balance
our state's economy," stated Chairman Espich. "I am very
optimistic with our proposed budget and its plan to pull us out
of our deficit without raising taxes."
The budget includes an estimated $650 million in new spending,
$181 million of which will increase education funding throughout
the state. The bill will also reform the school funding formula,
making tuition dollars follow the student. Under the current formula,
some schools are guaranteed an increase in funding even if their
enrollment declines. With the new formula, no such misallocations
of tax dollars will be allowed. To address the concerns of schools
that benefit most under the past funding guarantees, the new formula
contains provisions designed to give greater preference to schools
that teach a large number of disadvantaged students.
The proposed budget will also require state colleges and universities
to create guaranteed tuition programs that will give students the
opportunity to avoid yearly tuition increases. Students can do this
by selecting a fixed-rate
option to lock in a tuition rate throughout their college career.
The bill will also direct state colleges and universities to create
over 70 courses in 12 degree areas that are guaranteed to be transferable
between state institutions.
"It is vitally important for our state institutions to guarantee
transferable credits to college students," stated Chairman
Espich. "A college student who cannot transfer college credits
from one state institution to the next is literally throwing their