Indiana Senate confirms House spending, inflation-fighting bill

Friday night update

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana senators on Friday confirmed a House-approved relief bill that will provide $200 refunds of the state’s growing budget surplus if approved by the governor.

Although below Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s originally proposed refunds of $225, the measure that passed 37-9 represents a concession from GOP senators who initially feared the refunds would further fuel inflation.

Senator Travis Holdman, who sponsored the bill, said the funding was to ensure ‘pregnant women and children are cared for as best we can’ in the wake of the abortion ban approved by the House on Friday afternoon. Senators could also vote on that ban and send it to the governor later Friday.

The Indiana House also passed a final version of the relief bill on Friday, after which it went to senators for a vote of approval.

“I think we have a good bill to take to the Senate,” Republican Representative Tim Brown, who sponsored the bill, said Friday. Brown said Thursday the package was a deal with Senate negotiators.

That compromise includes using about $1 billion of the state’s record $6.1 billion cash reserve for rebates. About $1 billion more will go towards future obligations of a state teachers’ pension fund, a debt that Senate Republican leaders have prioritized paying.

Although several Senate Democrats voted in favor of the Senate bill, they said they were unhappy with its outcome.

“They have the short end of the stick, and that’s their money,” Democratic Leader Greg Taylor said of Indiana taxpayers. He voted against the bill.

House Democrats had similar concerns, saying the pension debt included in the bill was manageable and the $1 billion could be spent on more pressing needs such as education, improving health public service and support for child care programs.

“I’m going to vote yes because a little is better than nothing,” Rep. Gregory Porter said earlier Friday. “We love this state as you love the state. But when it comes to what we have to say, it falls on deaf ears.

On July 29, Indiana senators first approved a $45 million spending bill with no rebates for state agencies that “support the health of pregnant women, postpartum mothers and infants”, especially among low-income families. Services would be available for families with children under 4 and for those adopting.

Lawmakers retained elements of the House relief bill also passed on July 29, including the repeal of the state tax on infant diapers.

Friday afternoon story

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana House on Friday approved a bill providing for $200 refunds of the state’s growing budget surplus.

Although below Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s originally proposed refunds of $225, the measure represents a concession from GOP senators who were initially reluctant, fearing the refunds would further fuel inflation.

“I think we have a good bill to take to the Senate,” said Republican Representative Tim Brown, who sponsored the bill. Brown said Thursday the package was a deal with Senate negotiators, who could consider the bill later Friday.

That compromise includes using about $1 billion of the state’s record $6.1 billion cash reserve for rebates. About $1 billion more will go towards future obligations of a state teachers’ pension fund, a debt that Senate Republican leaders have prioritized paying.

The bill passed 93-6, with several Democrats — many of whom voted against the bill on Thursday, when lawmakers first addressed the deal — in favor of the funding on Friday.

Democratic Representative Gregory Porter on Friday criticized Republican lawmakers for not seriously considering their amendments to the bill.

Democrats had argued that the pension debt was manageable and the billion dollars could be spent on more pressing needs such as education, improving public health and supporting child care programs.

“I’m going to vote yes because a little is better than nothing,” Porter said during the debate. “We love this state as you love the state. But when it comes to what we have to say, it falls on deaf ears.

On July 29, Indiana senators approved a $45 million spending bill with no rebates for state agencies that “support the health of pregnant women, postpartum mothers, and infants,” especially among low-income families. Services would be available for families with children under 4 and for those adopting.

Lawmakers retained elements of the House relief bill also passed on July 29, including the repeal of the state tax on infant diapers.

___

This story is by Arleigh Rodgers of The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/arleighrodgers

Comments are closed.