Indiana Senate GOP not supporting school voucher expansion

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – A major expansion proposed for Indiana’s private school voucher program would be axed under the state budget plan advanced Thursday by state Senate Republicans.

That voucher expansion supported by House Republicans will be among several points of contention as House and Senate budget leaders work to reach an agreement on a new two-year state budget before the end of April.

The Senate GOP plan also drops a House push to speed up planned cuts to the state’s personal income tax rates that were approved last year.

Senate Republicans proposed increasing general K-12 school funding by about 4.6% each of the next two years. That $1.1 billion boost is less than the House endorsed in February, but House Republicans would direct more than $500 million to the voucher program expansion, or nearly one-third of their total proposed school funding increase.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ryan Mishler said the Senate proposal would keep the current family income limits to qualify for state money toward private school tuition.

A significant departure in both the House and Senate plans from Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s budget request was to scale back a major funding increase for public health initiatives from the $345 million sought by the governor over the next two years to $225 million.

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