STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

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.

Confirmed Cases: 119066

Reported Deaths: 3612
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21563768
Lake10745324
Elkhart6734112
St. Joseph6679115
Allen6364205
Hamilton4965109
Vanderburgh384231
Hendricks2779124
Monroe267137
Tippecanoe259013
Johnson2362125
Clark226757
Porter222447
Delaware201162
Cass19589
Vigo187928
Madison171475
LaPorte151941
Warrick140743
Floyd140464
Howard133964
Kosciusko127117
Bartholomew119357
Marshall102124
Dubois100919
Boone99746
Grant96636
Hancock94843
Noble92932
Henry82226
Jackson77610
Wayne77314
Morgan73940
Shelby68329
Daviess68129
Dearborn67928
LaGrange64711
Clinton63414
Harrison59824
Putnam59011
Gibson5455
Knox5379
Lawrence51829
Montgomery51321
DeKalb49111
White48814
Decatur46139
Miami4394
Greene42936
Fayette42314
Jasper4032
Steuben3977
Scott39311
Posey3541
Sullivan33812
Jennings31712
Franklin31525
Clay3105
Ripley3108
Orange28724
Whitley2876
Carroll28013
Adams2773
Wabash2758
Starke2737
Washington2702
Wells2694
Spencer2683
Jefferson2523
Huntington2503
Fulton2462
Tipton22922
Randolph2238
Perry22213
Jay1920
Newton17411
Owen1711
Martin1690
Pike1691
Rush1584
Vermillion1320
Fountain1302
Blackford1223
Pulaski1141
Crawford1100
Parke1072
Brown1033
Benton860
Ohio797
Union790
Switzerland690
Warren411
Unassigned0227

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 152907

Reported Deaths: 4783
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin27283615
Cuyahoga17603657
Hamilton13340321
Montgomery7993166
Lucas7377364
Butler6151112
Summit5393252
Warren313649
Mahoning3114282
Marion311447
Stark2946175
Pickaway268445
Lorain234286
Delaware232821
Fairfield214654
Licking196063
Columbiana195180
Wood194273
Trumbull1921132
Clark185341
Clermont176123
Lake166051
Greene153634
Medina149339
Miami147652
Allen147372
Portage117766
Mercer113919
Erie96047
Tuscarawas94320
Wayne94268
Richland94119
Ross90426
Madison85512
Darke81144
Athens7402
Geauga73349
Hancock73110
Belmont72427
Lawrence68622
Shelby66910
Ashtabula66248
Auglaize62511
Putnam62523
Sandusky58720
Huron5727
Union5512
Scioto5287
Seneca49514
Ottawa47230
Muskingum4553
Preble44716
Holmes3999
Jefferson3424
Henry33715
Defiance33212
Champaign3143
Logan3143
Clinton30512
Perry3039
Fulton2991
Brown2923
Knox28915
Jackson2667
Washington26323
Morrow2622
Hardin25713
Ashland2484
Crawford2486
Coshocton23511
Fayette2346
Highland2313
Williams2163
Wyandot21512
Pike2040
Gallia19713
Meigs17711
Guernsey1748
Hocking1679
Carroll1527
Adams1374
Van Wert1283
Paulding1130
Monroe11018
Harrison643
Morgan500
Vinton483
Noble350
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Overcast
59° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 59°
Angola
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 59°
Huntington
Overcast
56° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 56°
Decatur
Overcast
61° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 61°
Van Wert
Overcast
61° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 61°
Few Showers Wednesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events