Everybody’s favorite economist, Larry DeBoer, in his news column Capital Comments, provides a nice overview of the state budget and how the projected revenue increase, $1.6 billion, might be used.
He lists the Big Four items that constitute about 80% of the budget: 1) K-12 education; 2) Higher education; 3) Medicaid; and 4) Property tax relief. K-12 wants a 4% increase, higher ed wants about a 3% increase, Medicaid is expected to rise at about 8% but the Governor thinks he can make due with 5%, and property tax relief is a work in progress but Prof. DeBoer is thinking probably $450 million. So, with the Big Four accounted for, we’re already at about $1.375 billion. If the other 20% of the budget just keeps up with inflation – about 3%, we get savings at about 10% (up from the current 9%) of the budget for the next recession, and throw in full day kindergarten, we’re looking at a need of about $2.4 billion in new money. So, from that standpoint, we’re about $800 million off.
I am all in favor of spending more on education… if it goes to supplies, teacher salaries, installing air conditioning, free (and better) lunches, etc. Heck, I’m in education, so I suppose I’m biased, but teachers are underpaid and our kids deserve the very best that we can give them.
At the same time, how much of this money goes toward the bonuses that school superintendants get when the kids meet ISTEP standards? Will any of it go toward hiring another art teacher, or toward giving graduate student assistants a living wage? (Far too many support staff at Purdue and IU are eligible for food stamps, IMHO.)