Earlier this week, the Indiana Department of Education submitted its budget request for the upcoming biennium. Among other things, the budget request funds high quality, public and private pre-K throughout the state, increases funds for small schools and increases technology spending while providing a 2% increase each year in tuition support for all public schools throughout the biennium.
In addition, to eliminate the textbook tax, the Department will be seeking a $1,000 tax deduction for families to help offset the costs of textbooks. Currently, this deduction is only available to the parents of children in private schools rather than those whose children attend public school. This tax break is projected to save Hoosier families more than $60 million over the course of the budget.
“Budgets reflect priorities,” said Glenda Ritz, Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, “and there is no greater priority than our children and investments that we need to make in their future. As Superintendent, I am calling for common sense funding increases for all schools, while also making high-quality, public and private pre-K available to Hoosier families in every community.
“In addition, we need to invest in our small schools. Indiana is a state of communities, and our schools are the heart of many of our smaller communities. I travel throughout Indiana two to three days a week, and I constantly see small schools, especially in rural communities, struggling to maintain their educational programming.
“Finally, the time has come to end the textbook tax. The parents of children in private schools have received this tax deduction for years, it is time for middle class Hoosiers to get a tax break as well.”
In total, the increase in tuition support amounts to $455 million in new tuition support over the biennium compared to the 2016-17 school year, while phasing in pre-K in every community is expected to come to $147 million in the first year. The Department previously identified unused reversions totaling less than one percent of Indiana’s budget that can fund high quality, public and private pre-K. If enacted, this budget request would represent the largest investment in education in state history.