Indiana panel rejects proposed $291 million teacher pay hike

The Republican-controlled House Ways and Means Committee voted along party lines against the proposal.

Posted: Jan 9, 2020 10:24 AM
Updated: Jan 9, 2020 11:49 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana House committee rejected a Democratic proposal on Tuesday that would have directed $291 million in unexpected state tax revenue toward one-time teacher pay bonuses.

The Republican-controlled House Ways and Means Committee voted 13-7 along party lines against the proposal, going along with arguments from GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb’s budget director that it wouldn’t be the best use of the money.

Another legislative committee, meanwhile, advanced bills that would delay any penalties to schools from lower student scores on the state’s new ILEARN standardized test and to end the mandatory use of those test results in teacher evaluations.

Ways and Means Committee Republicans endorsed a bill backed by Holcomb that would direct the $291 million to paying cash rather than borrowing money for several planned college campus construction projects, as was allowed under the state budget approved in April.

State Budget Director Zach Jackson told the committee that the planned use of the unanticipated revenue collected last budget year could save the state about $135 million in interest payments, making that money available for future state spending.

“I think most people would choose to go ahead and use the cash to pay off that debt,” Jackson said.

The state’s cash reserves will remain over the $2 billion mark, which the Holcomb administration has said is important for retaining the state’s top-level credit rating.

Holcomb said Monday that he might suggest a teacher pay boost in his State of the State speech next week, but he also has said the state budget’s 2.5% increase for K-12 schools for this school year and next represents “historic, unprecedented progress.”

Democratic state Rep. Ed DeLaney, of Indianapolis, said he believed that with current interest rates below 3% the available tax money would be better spent on addressing the state’s lagging teacher pay.

“In a low interest rate, high-growth economy, I sit like a brooding hen on a triple-A debt rating and I never deliver the egg,” DeLaney said. “So, I’m asking you to just act like any other state, any other government (and) take advantage of a good credit rating by borrowing for legitimate purposes and expand what you do for our people.”

The Democratic proposal would’ve resulted in bonuses of more than $4,000 per Indiana teacher, whose average 2017-18 salary of about $50,600 was the lower than teachers in any of Indiana’s neighboring states, according to the National Education Association.

The House Education Committee voted unanimously in support of sending to the full House bills that would limit the use of the ILEARN standardized test scores after fewer than half of Indiana students met expected achievement levels when the exam was first given in spring 2019.

One proposal would prevent any school from receiving a lower A-F state rating based on results from the 2019 or 2020 ILEARN exams.

The other would end a state requirement dating from a 2011 Republican-driven education overhaul that school districts incorporate those student exam results in their teacher evaluations, which are used in determining merit pay raises.

The teacher evaluation change is a reversal of state policy that gives school leaders the authority to decide how to assess teacher performance, said Republican state Rep. Tony Cook of Cicero, a former school district superintendent and the bill’s sponsor.

“Measuring a teacher’s effectiveness based on their students’ performance on a single standardized exam is an imperfect and, sometimes, an unfair system,” Cook said.

Teacher and school administrator groups spoke in favor of the proposals, with some saying the use of the exam scores in teacher evaluations has created high stress on students and teachers and contributed to low morale among many educators.

They also backed a two-year delay in using the ILEARN scores for school ratings to allow schools time for adjustments after replacing the much-maligned ISTEP exam.

Indiana Chamber of Commerce vice president Jason Bearce was among opponents of the bills who maintained that a change wasn’t needed with more than 90% of teachers are being rated effective or highly effective under the current system.

“Signals matter and for the state to say that objective measures of student achievement don’t matter, it sends the wrong message and really sets a troubling precedent,” Bearce said.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 726600

Reported Deaths: 13379
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion992781737
Lake53359964
Allen40387675
St. Joseph35449550
Hamilton35440408
Elkhart28376439
Tippecanoe22336217
Vanderburgh22271396
Porter18637306
Johnson17876377
Hendricks17154314
Clark12919191
Madison12574339
Vigo12426245
Monroe11845169
LaPorte11773210
Delaware10615185
Howard9859215
Kosciusko9366117
Hancock8239140
Bartholomew8042155
Warrick7766155
Floyd7645177
Grant7019174
Wayne7018199
Boone6669101
Morgan6547139
Dubois6148117
Marshall6000111
Dearborn578577
Cass5780105
Henry5681102
Noble558283
Jackson500472
Shelby489496
Lawrence4492120
Gibson434391
Harrison434271
Clinton426853
DeKalb425284
Montgomery423388
Whitley394439
Huntington387480
Steuben382957
Miami380266
Knox371890
Jasper362747
Putnam358560
Wabash353178
Adams340654
Ripley338970
Jefferson328881
White312854
Daviess295899
Wells290481
Decatur283592
Fayette278662
Greene276685
Posey270933
LaGrange264770
Scott264753
Clay259245
Randolph239781
Washington239532
Spencer231331
Jennings229248
Starke214452
Fountain211946
Sullivan211042
Owen197056
Fulton194640
Jay191830
Carroll188120
Perry182637
Orange182454
Rush172925
Vermillion168343
Franklin167735
Tipton162345
Parke145916
Blackford134532
Pike133034
Pulaski116045
Newton107034
Brown101541
Crawford99114
Benton98414
Martin87815
Warren81415
Switzerland7848
Union70710
Ohio56211
Unassigned0413

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1080121

Reported Deaths: 19344
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1254981392
Cuyahoga1115202107
Hamilton798171200
Montgomery512711012
Summit46997933
Lucas41982782
Butler38273580
Stark32190907
Lorain24910480
Warren24249297
Mahoning21474586
Lake20586368
Clermont19727238
Delaware18496131
Licking16396210
Fairfield16144199
Trumbull15996466
Medina15233262
Greene15027244
Clark13960297
Wood13056188
Portage12806201
Allen11609231
Richland11308198
Miami10659215
Muskingum8795132
Wayne8777210
Columbiana8756229
Pickaway8547121
Marion8511135
Tuscarawas8467243
Erie7859154
Hancock6900126
Ross6835152
Ashtabula6777169
Geauga6665148
Scioto6398101
Belmont5856167
Union570047
Lawrence5542102
Jefferson5511151
Huron5422119
Darke5344122
Sandusky5330120
Seneca5268121
Athens518258
Washington5148109
Auglaize488484
Mercer480185
Shelby468593
Knox4479110
Madison435461
Putnam4268100
Ashland421289
Fulton420969
Defiance418997
Crawford3965106
Brown392957
Logan381176
Preble379098
Clinton370561
Ottawa366279
Highland353861
Williams338075
Champaign330458
Guernsey315453
Jackson312051
Perry294550
Morrow283839
Fayette281449
Hardin270364
Henry268166
Coshocton264258
Holmes2590101
Van Wert242863
Pike237433
Adams237052
Gallia235048
Wyandot230654
Hocking215162
Carroll191247
Paulding172440
Meigs144639
Noble133337
Monroe131942
Morgan108323
Harrison107537
Vinton82415
Unassigned02
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