Calls to Action & Key Bills
HB 1001 (Budget Bill) Take Action NOW
ICPE Legislation Action Alert – Saturday, April 10, 2021
Voucher expansion and ESAs are rolled into the budget bill.
Where we are now:
- On Thursday (April 8), the Indiana Senate unveiled their proposed state budget for the next to two years.
- The items from HB 1005 (voucher eligibility expansion and the creation of Education Savings Accounts) are still in the House budget.
- We’re hearing the proposed Education Scholarship Accounts may be pared down to a “pilot project” for a limited number of special education students.
What we like about the Senate budget:
- It appears that they listened to public school districts’ and public-school advocates’ concerns about funding and privatization.
- State funding for K-12 education would increase $408 million over the next two years. They allocated more than the House K-12 education budget ($378 million) and the Governor’s K-12 education budget ($377 million). Remember, though, that public schools will not receive ALL of anyone’s K-12 budget. Parts of the K-12 budget will go to various forms of vouchers.
- It increases funding for special education, the complexity index and support for English Language Learners – all of those are sorely needed.
- It pares back the voucher eligibility proposed in the House budget.
- It rejects proposed cuts to CTE programs.
- It keeps virtual charter schools’ funding at the 85% level.
- As public school advocates, we will continue to oppose expanding vouchers and creating ESAs, because these programs divert K-12 money from Indiana’s public schools that serve 94 percent of Indiana’s students.
- The additional K-12 funds in the Senate budget still do not offset the disproportionate increase in funding for vouchers and ESAs.
- Even if ESAs are reduced to a pilot program just for a limited number of special education students, that is still unacceptable. We all know privatization programs like this have a history of expanding in future legislative sessions and costing more money. And we have concerns about whether ESAs will cover all special education needs and what families will be asked to give up.
- We continue to be concerned that even with this proposed $408 million increase, Indiana is still not able to provide the teacher pay increase recommended by Governor Holcomb’s Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission.
What will happen in the next two weeks
- There will be much negotiation over the next two weeks as House and Senate members arrive at a budget that will probably be a mixture of the House and Senate budgets. Things we like and things we dislike will come and go right up until the final hour of the final day, expected to be April 22.
- The state revenue forecast will come out on April 15. It is expected to be better than previous quarters revenue forecasts and that is good!
What we need you to do now
- Contact your own Senator and Representative (Find your legislators), the Speaker of the House (firstname.lastname@example.org) , the Governor (https://www.in.gov/gov/ask-eric/), and these Senate members:
- You appreciate the Senate K-12 budget, and urge them to stay at that level – or maybe even more if revenue forecasts are good.
- Mention other aspects of the Senate budget you appreciate.
- Urge them to eliminate (or at least minimize) voucher expansions.
- Tell them that vouchers are diverting money from your public school district. (Use our interactive map to see the amount.) Tell them your school district could use that money to fill many needs, including increasing teacher pay.
- Stay connected to our legislative action items between now and April 22. Things will be constantly changing!
Your messages have been making a difference! Keep it up!
Problematic Bills and Bills We Are/Were Watching
🚨 HB 1001-State budget (see action above)
Appropriates money for capital expenditures, the operation of the state, K-12 and higher education, the delivery of Medicaid and other services, and various other distributions and purposes. Click here for more details and the current status of this bill.
👀 Analysis: This is the most important bill that goes through the General Assembly. Not many details out yet. House won’t release proposal until later in session, but we do have Governor’s budget has been released and it has an increase in K-12 ADM funding of 2% in the first year of biennium and 1% in second year. This is higher than expected in light of anticipated revenue decreases. The economy has not turned down as much as expected, which resulted in a better fiscal forecast. Because it is so large and so many pieces of legislation impact the budget, it’s a “Christmas tree” bill. Legislators tend to amend it and “add ornaments” at the very end, which makes it difficult to follow all the changes and sometimes changes come in final hour of session in April. Keep an eye on it and look for updates and calls to action from ICPE.
🚨 SB 413 - Education matters (voucher expansion)
(Sen. Raatz) Authorizes either the board of a school corporation or the fiscal body of the county in which the school corporation is located (transferring body) to adopt a resolution to transfer a share of the school corporation’s operations fund property tax revenue to certain charter schools according to an allocation formula based on the ADM count of the charter school compared to the total combined ADM count of the school corporation plus the ADM count of all charter schools within the attendance area of the school corporation. However, provides that, in the case of a school corporation that has a charter school within its boundaries whose comparative ADM count under the allocation formula is greater than 5%, the fiscal body of the county in which the school corporation is located is required to place a referendum on the ballot regarding the question of whether the school corporation should be required to transfer a share of the school corporation’s operations fund property tax revenue to all eligible charter schools within the boundaries of the school corporation according to the allocation formula. Adds the referendum procedures. Provides that a foster child may qualify to receive a choice scholarship. Amends the maximum amount of the choice scholarship for each eligible choice scholarship student to 90% of state tuition support. Provides that a school’s or school corporation’s category or designation of school or school corporation performance assigned by the state board of education for the 2020-2021 school year is the higher of the school’s or school corporation’s: (1) category or designation of school or school corporation performance assigned for the 2019-2020 school year; or (2) category or designation of school or school corporation performance for the 2020-2021 school year. (Includes adult high schools.) Provides that consequences for school improvement do not apply for the 2020-2021 school year. Click here for more details and the current status of this bill.
🚨 Analysis: This bill authorizes a school board to transfer operating funds from tax revenue to charter schools based on ADM of the charter school compared to total of public school. Recall that last year legislation passed that allowed school corporations to share with charters, this bill mandates that a public school share a referendum with a charter school. Any foster child can get voucher. Amends maximum amount for every eligible student for choice scholarship to 90% of state tuition support. Does away with the categories for different levels based on income. This is regressive in terms of impact on community. Gives same type of financial support to wealthy families as to impoverished families. Also includes a hold harmless for performance on statewide assessments.
🚨 HB 1005 - School choice matters (likely DEAD)
(Rep. Behning – SW Indianapolis/Plainfield) Establishes the Indiana education savings account program (program). Provides that a parent of an eligible student or an emancipated eligible student may establish an account in the program…Provides a deduction from Indiana adjusted gross income for a grant amount that is distributed to a taxpayer’s Indiana education savings account and used for a qualified expense, to the extent the distribution is included in the taxpayer’s federal adjusted gross income. Changes the eligibility requirements to receive choice scholarships. Makes changes to the amount of tuition an eligible choice scholarship student is entitled to receive to attend a choice scholarship school. Click here for more details and current status. Note this bill has been amended.
🚨 Analysis: This is a very broad sweeping bill with a number of impacts on public schools as well as private voucher programs. It also creates Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) which allows taxpayerfunded unsupervised homeschooling. This is one of the House Republicans top 5 priority bills. Bill author is Chairman Behning (Education Committee) and he has said this bill will pass out of the house.
Establishes a fund that allows students with a disability, special ed designation or children of parent in armed services to receive funds that would otherwise go to the public school to use for their own educational materials, private school tuition, etc. Parents don’t have to use it to attend private school – they can also homeschool and will receive funds that would otherwise go to public school.
Changes choice scholarship (voucher) program eligibility requirements. Currently it’s capped at 200% of free/reduced lunch income level and would increase it to 225% of free/reduced lunch eligibility. This would increase the number of households eligible for choice scholarships.
It’s always a good idea to look at the fiscal note. When compared to Holcomb’s suggested increase of $370MM, most of that increase will be eaten up by the expansion of choice programs.
This further cuts into the amount the state can spend on K-12 public schools. Any money that comes out of K-12 budget that is allocated to choice programs (charters, vouchers, homeschools) all comes out of same budget that the public school budget comes out of. Not separate line items. It all comes from the same piece of the pie.
🚨 HB 1093 - Choice scholarship eligibility (DEAD)
(Rep. Cherry – Greenfield) Makes changes to eligibility requirements for the choice scholarship program. Makes conforming amendments. Repeals a provision that restricts the use of a choice scholarship program for a student who is eligible to receive a choice scholarship because the student was enrolled in a certain early childhood program. Click here for more details and current status of this bill.
🚨 Analysis: This changes eligibility for the choice scholarship program. Does not raise to 300%. Caps it at 250% of free/reduced lunch eligibility and does away with the various categories of vouchers (50% for higher income, 70% middle income, and 90% for low income ) and allows 90% ADM for all. High price tag for this bill.
🚨 SB 358 - Vacant or underutilized school buildings
(Sen. Rogers – South Bend) Defines a vacant or underutilized school building. Mandates that, beginning in 2022, and each school year thereafter, each school corporation shall submit to the department of education (department), within 60 days after the fall count of average daily membership (ADM), certain information about school buildings that are currently or have been used for any combination of kindergarten through grade 12 instruction. Requires that, if a school building is vacant or underutilized for two consecutive counts, the department must notify the school corporation that it must put the school building up for sale unless the school corporation submits a protest and plan to bring the school building out of vacant or underutilized status. Authorizes mediation or arbitration if a dispute arises between the school corporation and charter school authorizer. Makes conforming changes. Click here for more details and current status of this bill.
🚨 Analysis: Creates a new definition of “vacant” and mandates that within 60 days of fall count, school district has to report underutilized or vacant building to DOE and is subject to sale unless the school corporation submits a protest to SBOE. Essentially this is a forced sale of unused, underutilized buildings. For districts that are going through a period of enrollment decline, this could have devastating effects, hitting hard both in urban and rural areas, which are both suffering declining enrollment. Expect a lot of opposition to this bill.
🚨 SB 412 - Indiana personalized education grant program (DEAD - but concept is in 1005 and 1001)
(Sen. Buchanan) Establishes the Indiana personalized education grant program (program). Provides that a parent of an eligible student or an emancipated eligible student may establish an account in the program. Defines an eligible student as: (1) a student with a disability who requires special education; or (2) a student placed in foster care or otherwise under care and supervision of the department of child services. Provides that an eligible student who has an account and attends a qualified school is eligible to receive an annual grant amount that may be used to pay for tuition at an accredited nonpublic school or education related expenses. Provides that the treasurer of state and department of education shall jointly administer the program. Provides a deduction from Indiana adjusted gross income for a grant amount that is distributed to a taxpayer’s Indiana education savings account and used for a qualified expense, to the extent the distribution is included in the taxpayer’s federal adjusted gross income. Click here for more details and current status of this bill.
🚨 Analysis: Similar to education savings account. Parents or emancipated eligible student (defined as special education or foster care) can receive an annual grant amount of ADM that would have otherwise gone to public school. This is essentially a 100% voucher and doesn’t need to be used at an accredited school. Essentially a homeschool. Can use for “related” educational expenses. Programs like this that have been allowed in other states have been subject to widespread fraud and abuse (e.g. Disneyland trip for entire family is educational, big screen TVs are necessary, etc.).
👀 SB 333 - Education matters
(Sen. Raatz) Amends the membership of the state board of education (state board). Requires the state board to establish a maximum per diem rate for meetings of members of governing bodies of school corporations, including Indianapolis Public Schools. Removes a provision that provides that, if the members of a governing body is totally comprised of appointed members, the appointive authority must approve the per diem rate before the governing body may make payments to the members. Click here for more details and the current status of this bill.
👀 Analysis: We have heard for the last few years since the General Assembly has contemplated changing the elected Superintendent of Public Instruction to Education Secretary. A part of the concept is that they now want to combine a number of state entities. We have a State Board of Education, Indiana State Charter School Board, Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, and a number of entities. This would amend the membership of SBOE and increase the number of governors’ appointees to the SBOE. Based upon other pieces of legislation floating around, we expect this has the potential to become a vehicle bill to change the law as it relates to the ISCB and the workforce development council. Chairman Raatz is author and will have greater chance of getting heard. Keep watching.
Bills We Support
✅ HB 1002 - Civil immunity related to COVID-19
Protects health care providers from professional discipline for certain acts or omissions related to the provision of health care services during a state disaster emergency. Click here for more details.
✅ Analysis: Public schools have asked to be included within the immunity for COVID-related issues. Fast tracked.
✅ HB 1003 - Tuition support
Establishes a definition of “virtual instruction” for purposes of determining a school corporation’s basic tuition support using the average daily membership (ADM). Click here for more details.
✅ Analysis: Tries to address schools providing online instruction as a result of the pandemic. Schools would stand to lose 15% of ADM money if they were providing 50% or more virtual instruction. Changes definition of virtual instruction. Would allow 100% ADM funding regardless of instruction method for current school year only. Limited only to current school year. Does not apply to fall 2021. Fast tracked.
✅ HB 1035 - English learner program or small school grants
(Rep. Manning – Logansport area) Establishes an English language learner program or small school grant program for school corporations that have: (1) a current ADM (average daily membership) of less than 2,250; or (2) more than 1,000 pupils who are eligible for the English language learner program. Appropriates from the state general fund an amount sufficient to make the grants for the 2021-2023 biennium. Click here for more details.
✅ Analysis: have had this small school grants program in the past, it would also allocate funds for larger schools. this could impact some substantial urban school districts and some suburban mid-sized districts (primarily south bend/Elkhart area) who would benefit from this.
✅ HB1137 - Sales tax holiday
(Rep. Campbell – Tippecanoe County) Defines “clothing”, “backpack”, “school supply”, and “computer”. Provides a sales and use tax exemption period beginning on August 1 through August 7 of each year for the following items: (1) A backpack or school supply, if the backpack or school supply is purchased for use by a student in a public or private elementary or secondary school, and if the sales price of the backpack or school supply does not exceed $100. (2) Certain articles of clothing, if the sales price of the article of clothing does not exceed $100. (3) A computer, if the computer is purchased for use by a student in a public or private elementary or secondary school, and if the sales price of the computer does not exceed $500. Click here for more details.
✅ Analysis: This is positive. Many states recognize a sales tax holiday. Applies to clothing, shoes, backpacks, supplies, computers (sales price not to exceed $500) – limited to week of 8/1-8/7 every year for any family who has a public or private elementary or secondary student.
✅ HB 1186 - Early graduation and ADM count
(Rep. Cherry – Greenfield) Requires that the February count of a school corporation’s average daily membership (ADM) must be increased by the number of students who, during the students’ expected graduation year: (1) were enrolled in the school corporation on the September ADM count day; (2) completed graduation requirements before the February ADM count day; and (3) were not enrolled in the school corporation on the February ADM count day. Click here for more details.
✅ Analysis: In the past schools have been penalized by graduating students early. This keeps ADM whole even if students graduate a semester early. Rewards school corporation for doing a good job. Expected to pass out of committee.
✅ HB 1267 - Education foundation tax credit
(Rep. Hamilton) Provides for an adjusted gross income tax credit for donations to a public school foundation. Provides that the maximum individual taxpayer credit is $1,000 in the case of a single return or $2,000 in the case of a joint return. Provides that the maximum corporate taxpayer credit is the greater of 10% of the corporation’s total adjusted gross income tax liability or $10,000. Click here for more details.
✅ Analysis: Creates a tax credit for education foundations. Currently donors can only receive a deduction. This changes it to a tax credit. Allows a maximum $1000 single $2000 married couple tax credit.
✅ SB 1 - Civil immunity related to COVID-19
Provides civil immunity for damages resulting from exposure of an individual to COVID-19 on the premises owned or operated by a person, on any premises on which the person or an employee or agent of the person provided property or services to the individual, or during an activity managed, organized, or sponsored by the person. Defines “COVID-19 protective product” and provides civil immunity for harm that results from the design, manufacture, labeling, sale, distribution, or donation of a COVID-19 protective product, except for an act or omission that constitutes gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct (including fraud and intentionally tortious acts). Limits specified immunities to tort actions. Exempts fraud and intentionally tortious acts from specified immunities. Click here for more details.
✅ Analysis: Similar to HB 1002
✅ SB 2 - Funding for virtual instruction in public schools
(Sen. Raatz)- Establishes a definition of “virtual instruction” for purposes of determining a school corporation’s basic tuition support using the 2021 spring count of average daily membership (ADM). Click here for more details.
✅ Analysis: Similar to HB1003. Slight wording changes.
✅ SB 16 - Tax credit for teachers' classroom supplies
(Sen. Randolph – Lake County) Increases the maximum amount of the income tax credit for an individual employed as a teacher for amounts expended for classroom supplies from $100 to $500 per taxable year. Click here for more details.
✅ Analysis: Increases the tax credit from $100 to $500 per year. This has been proposed nearly every budget year and it has never passed.
SB 52 - School curriculum
(Sen. Leising – Greensburg area) Requires each school corporation, charter school, and state accredited nonpublic elementary school to include cursive writing in its curriculum. Click here for more details.
Analysis: It is filed every year. Debates have been ongoing for years. We are neutral on this bill.
✅ SB 212 - Charter schools and prohibited discrimination
(Sen. Yoder – Bloomington) Provides that it is the public policy of the state to provide equal, nonsegregated, and nondiscriminatory education opportunities and facilities for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or marital status (in addition to race, creed, national origin, color, or sex under current law). Makes a similar change to a charter school provision concerning the suspension, expulsion, or requested transfer of a student and to an Indiana academy for science, mathematics, and humanities provision. Provides that a charter school may not discriminate against staff on the basis of disability, race, color, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, religion, or ancestry. Click here for more details.
✅ Analysis: we have all seen news reports of discrimination in voucher schools (e.g. faculty members being terminated, transgender students not accepted). This prohibits discrimination and extends the same protections that already exist in public schools to charter schools. Would like to see this apply to voucher schools. Not yet scheduled to get a hearing.
✅ SB 342 - State tax credit for K-12 education contributions
(Sen. Buchanan – Boone/Tippicanoe County) Provides a 25% state tax credit to taxpayers that contribute to a public elementary school or public secondary school located in Indiana or a foundation organized and operated solely for the benefit of an Indiana public school. Sets forth standards that apply to taking the credit and to schools and foundations that receive contributions. Limits the total credits that may be claimed during a state fiscal year. Click here for more details.
✅ Analysis: Similar to the other house bill. Slight chance of getting heard.
✅ SB 372 - Various education matters
(Sen. Qaddoura) Amends the definition of “eligible child” and “limited eligible child” for purposes of the early education grant pilot program. Establishes a definition of “virtual instruction” for purposes of determining a school corporation’s basic tuition support using the average daily membership (ADM). Amends the instructional time requirements for not more than 18 student instructional days in a school year if half of the instructional time during the day is used for one or more of the following: (1) Teacher professional development. (2) Student planning. (3) Teacher collaboration efforts with other teachers, school administrators, or both. Provides that a school’s or school corporation’s category or designation of school or school corporation performance assigned by the state board of education for the 2020-2021 school year is the higher of the school’s or school corporation’s: (1) category or designation of school or school corporation performance assigned for the 2019-2020 school year; or (2) category or designation of school or school corporation performance for the 2020-2021 school year. Provides that consequences for school improvement do not apply for the 2020-2021 school year. Requires that every two years the department of education prepare and present to the budget committee an update on the status of the complexity index. Provides civil immunity for damages resulting from exposure of an individual to COVID-19 on school corporation property or at a school corporation sponsored activity. Click here for more details.
✅ Analysis: Includes a lot. Changes definition of eligible child for early education pilot program (pre-K), supports virtual instruction 100% ADM (like SB 2). The category for state accountability performance cannot be lower than what the school received in the 2019-2020 school year or 2020-2021 school year – no penalty due to performance resulting from the pandemic. This bill protects school corporations from consequences for having lower student scores due to the pandemic.
Hoosiers for Public Education
Indiana Coalition for Public Education has a bipartisan affiliated political action committee, Hoosiers for Public Education. Contributions to the PAC are pooled strategically to support the election of Indiana General Assembly candidates who stand up for Indiana public schools. Please click below to learn more or to contribute.