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: 926604

Reported Deaths: 15083
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1262201958
Lake626901087
Allen52772747
Hamilton43283445
St. Joseph41475584
Elkhart33129488
Vanderburgh29927439
Tippecanoe26589247
Johnson23267415
Hendricks21902340
Porter21473341
Clark17150224
Madison17065379
Vigo15815273
Monroe14298190
LaPorte14108237
Delaware13771219
Howard13635262
Kosciusko11232134
Hancock10637160
Warrick10523176
Bartholomew10341167
Floyd10200202
Wayne9690218
Grant8939196
Morgan8734158
Boone8299109
Dubois7596123
Henry7469128
Dearborn745187
Noble7294101
Marshall7237128
Cass7097117
Lawrence6862150
Shelby6457107
Jackson643981
Gibson6036106
Harrison595585
Huntington591891
Montgomery5706102
DeKalb563591
Knox537599
Miami531983
Clinton527164
Putnam525367
Whitley516251
Steuben486367
Wabash477492
Jasper471961
Jefferson461991
Ripley444175
Adams439365
Daviess4064106
Scott394963
White386257
Clay382356
Greene380189
Wells379683
Decatur379595
Fayette367176
Posey354941
Jennings346356
Washington325847
LaGrange315774
Spencer313034
Fountain309753
Randolph305487
Sullivan299447
Owen279161
Starke272761
Orange272659
Fulton268851
Jay250634
Perry247451
Carroll241127
Franklin233637
Vermillion229750
Rush228930
Parke215220
Tipton206754
Pike202538
Blackford165634
Pulaski158751
Crawford142818
Newton140742
Benton139816
Brown132646
Martin126916
Switzerland123510
Warren113416
Union93511
Ohio77211
Unassigned0468

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1342777

Reported Deaths: 21471
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1502191556
Cuyahoga1327732318
Hamilton962791318
Montgomery659161136
Summit555141045
Lucas50248862
Butler46732653
Stark40741974
Lorain31004529
Warren29609328
Mahoning26462637
Clermont25206287
Lake24339416
Delaware22014143
Licking20180241
Fairfield20139221
Greene19955268
Trumbull19500508
Medina19478286
Clark17565325
Richland15949231
Portage15851228
Wood15438208
Allen13875256
Miami13549249
Muskingum12261149
Wayne11647237
Columbiana11344239
Tuscarawas10657265
Marion10509148
Pickaway10301128
Scioto10082126
Erie9618171
Ross9209174
Lawrence8516116
Hancock8298141
Ashtabula8180185
Geauga8066155
Belmont7966184
Jefferson7324168
Huron7253127
Union717849
Washington7037119
Athens681064
Sandusky6734133
Darke6559136
Knox6475121
Seneca6237137
Ashland5808112
Auglaize580488
Shelby5654101
Mercer552190
Brown551068
Defiance5361100
Madison535170
Crawford5299114
Highland527581
Fulton520082
Clinton515980
Logan503182
Preble4902110
Putnam4778106
Guernsey454661
Williams448281
Champaign436264
Perry432152
Ottawa431184
Jackson413260
Pike378941
Morrow369150
Fayette367652
Coshocton359466
Hardin350069
Adams348069
Gallia338054
Holmes3197108
Henry318868
Van Wert307170
Hocking291669
Wyandot276158
Carroll256752
Paulding236442
Meigs205242
Monroe185049
Noble164840
Morgan159228
Harrison151940
Vinton133918
Unassigned05
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