Let’s face it, there isn’t really that much disagreement between the Governor’s budget, the House budget and now the Senate budget. This is because they are all “balanced” and “maintain strong reserves.” They all fund schools and support teachers, etc.

We shouldn’t be surprised that they are similar in most regards because these folks all work together throughout the year to figure out what needs funded and at what levels, what makes sense, as well as what is sound and prudent. Not to mention, they all come from essentially the same place philosophically.

So, what are the differences?

The Senate has less for the Department of Child Services, as the State Budget Committee chairman, Sen. Ryan Mishler (R-Bremen), hinted from the beginning. Even this is not really that different when you consider the cushion the Senate provides from a flexible fund, if more is needed. And of course, there are plenty of other differences, but they are nuanced for the most part.

The Governor’s priorities will be funded, higher education building projects will be funded, workforce grant programs will get money. Medicaid will be funded, as will public safety. Perhaps everybody doesn’t get what they want, but it seems they do get what they need. So, without parsing the detailed differences, which will get sorted out in conference committee, let’s just look at the full picture.

There’s $34.6 billion total for the two-year budget: 50% goes to K-12 education, 15% to Medicaid, 12% to higher education, 6% to public safety, 5% to child services and 4% to other health services; that’s 92%. The remaining 8% goes to the whole of general government services, capital projects and miscellaneous other stuff, i.e. discretionary funds.

For those finance enthusiasts: the Senate budget PowerPoint presentation (with a color pie chart), the complete budget (which is searchable for your favorite items) and even a simulation of what each individual school district will receive under the Senate school formula (see first file under Additional Documents at the bottom).

A final note: The revenue forecast update will be presented to the State Budget Committee next Wednesday. The budget total always changes some based on this revised forecast of projected revenues over the next biennium. Senator Mishler suggested that he didn’t expect the new numbers to be drastically different – perhaps up a little or down a little. So again, don’t expect a big fireworks show as the budget-makers collectively wrap up their efforts on HB 1001 before the session ends.

Resource: Bill Waltz at (317) 264-6887 or email: bwaltz@indianachamber.com