Senate Education Committee to vote Wednesday on school district spending bill

("Indiana State Capitol Building" by Drew Tarvin, CC BY 2.0)

House Republicans’ plan to raise teacher pay may be on a fast track to Governor Holcomb.

The Senate Education Committee votes Wednesday on a bill requiring public notice when a school district spends more than 15 percent of its money outside the classroom. Chairman Jeff Raatz says he doesn’t expect any changes. If it passes the full Senate unchanged, it’d go straight to the governor’s desk.

Raatz says there’s research behind the 15 percent target, but says the notice requirement is to generate more data to see if it should be adjusted slightly. He says some superintendents have already told him they won’t spend an expected budget boost this year on teachers. He says the House and Senate are united in wanting to steer clear of forcing schools to spend their money a certain way. He says the required notices on state and local websites, and an option of ordering public hearings to explain spending priorities, will give the next legislature a fuller picture of budget needs when it revisits the issue.

While Raatz doesn’t plan any changes when the committee votes on Wednesday, there could still be changes in the full Senate. And Senate rules could require the bill to go through a second committee hearing on its fiscal impact.