Indiana Democrats cry foul on education budget


Kevin Rader/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - Indiana Democrats say Gov. Mitch Daniels is proposing to cut another $300 million from public education this year, but the governor says you can't cut what you didn't have.

Gov. Daniels has said there would be no further cuts to K-12 education in Indiana in the current budget session of the state legislature, but House Democrats say he is enacting one anyway.

"However, on Monday a letter went out saying the five percent cut will be extended another year. The five percent cut was $300 million," said Rep. Pat Bauer (D-South Bend).

State Representative Terry Goodin (D-Crothersville), is superintendent for the Crothersville Schools System.

"That was a one_time cut that was appropriated by the legislature last year. But what happened is now the governor is saying that base has been moved down $300 million so that's another $300 million cut. So it's $600 million over the biennium," said Goodin.

After he attended the swearing-in ceremonies for the three statewide office holders at the Statehouse Thursday, the governor reacted.

"It will be exactly the same amount as last year so the answer is no further cut," said Daniels.

The governor added that he did not know what letter House Democrats were referring to. Thursday afternoon, the Indiana Department of Education released copies of letters it had sent out as far back as January 2010 stating that spending for K-12 in 2011 would remain at 2010 levels. A subsequent memo in November reiterated that.

Democrats did not have a copy of the letter they were referring to.

"I think it's going to be devastating to a lot of schools. A lot of schools are already scratching their heads wondering how they will make ends meet. This cut once again which equals five percent is another shot in the knees that will knock schools back another step," said Goodin.

"It will be exactly as much in 2011 as it was in 2010. Any household in Indiana would recognize that as maintaining spending," said Daniels.

The governor will be presenting his budget to lawmakers next week.

Daniels will also be presenting his annual state of the state address to lawmakers, and the entire state, next Tuesday at 7:00 pm. You will be able to watch it on Channel 13.