Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

January 23, 2014

Indiana lawmakers push for temporary remedy for school transportation woes

INDIANAPOLIS — A temporary fix is in the making for school districts losing millions in transportation funds, but only the hardest hit may see relief.

On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously passed a bill to essentially stall for three years a new law that requires schools to pay off their debts before spending money on school buses and big-ticket projects.

The Senate bill would apply to fewer than 60 school districts — those set to lose at least 20 percent of their funds for transportation and capital project due to the new “protected levy” law.

Schools losing less than that would be left to absorb the cuts or dip into their operating funds, which pay for teacher and administrator salaries.

Supporters of the bill said it’s primarily aimed at helping districts in counties still recovering from the recession, which brought deep declines in property values and tax revenues needed to keep schools running.

“It’s a Band-Aid,” said state Sen. Ryan Mischler, R-Bremen. “But it’s a Band-Aid they should be able to grow out of on their own.”

Some of his fellow committee members disagreed, questioning how quickly the economy is rebounding.

“This is like putting a Band-Aid on a bleeding artery,” said state Sen. Tim Skinner, D-Terre Haute. “We’re going to have more people coming in on their hands and knees begging for us for money so they can provide transportation for schoolchildren.”

A similar bill that would benefit more schools is making its way through the House. But the Senate version is expected to prevail. Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, has made it clear that he wants the final version to be narrowly focused.

The protected levy law was passed in 2012 but its implementation delayed until this July. It takes money out of districts’ transportation, bus replacement and capital funds, diverting those dollars into debt service.

Text Only
Local News
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

With military action and tensions escalating between Russia and Ukraine, as well as Israel and Palestine, are you worried that the U.S. and other nations may get drawn into these conflicts?

Yes, it is a great concern of mine
I’m a little worried, but not too much
No, I’m not worried at all
     View Results
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating