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The Journal Gazette

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Thursday, December 06, 2018 2:58 pm

Business tax credits, hate crimes law, teacher pay part of governor's legislative agenda

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric Holcomb wants to expand a number of business tax credits, pass a hate crimes law and increase teacher pay.

These are just a few items on his legislative agenda unveiled Thursday.

Some proposals were very specific - such as exempting military pension from state income tax - while others are still being developed.

The latter is the case for teacher pay, which the administration said will take the next four years to boost. This session would focus on crafting a framework in collaboration with the legislature.

But officials said setting teacher pay will still be up to local school boards. GOP lawmakers have also identified teacher pay as a key issue.

Holcomb, though, also wants to eliminate a $30 million teacher appreciation grant. That money would instead go toward increasing the teacher schools supplies tax credit from $100 to $500. The cost of that would be about $10 million annually.

The rest of the money would go to the overall tuition support formula for K12 schools.

The teacher appreciation grant is supposed to recognize effective or highly effective teachers. But it has been criticized in recent years because districts receive disparate amounts. Some districts have split the money evenly among all teachers regardless of performance.

Holcomb also is not seeking additional money for the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Here are some other key proposals from the governor's plan:

 

• Support a hate crimes law that recognizes both sexual orientation and gender identity.

• Exempt military pensions from state income tax. About 20 states do this already and it is a key factor in deciding where to retire when leaving military service. The cost would be phased-in over four years with an eventual cost to the state of $18 million annually in tax revenue.

• Expand and revamp the Industrial Recovery Tax Credit, the Venture Capital Investment Tax Credit, the Hoosier Business Investment Tax Credit and the Headquarters Relocation Tax Credit.

• Roll out $100 million broadband program and $90 million trails program previously announced in September.

• Move the date to appoint the Superintendent of Public Instruction from 2025 to 2021. This is a result of schools chief Jennifer McCormick saying she will not seek reelection in 2020.

• Require all students to take a career pathways course in 9th or 10th grade.

• Double funding to $20 million for the Employer Training Grant.

• Implement various recommendations on school safety, including a $5 million increase in grant funding and a requirement that schools conduct one active shooter drill each year.

• Assign counselors to high-risk pregnant women on Medicaid to try to reduce the infant mortality rate.

• Expand recovery housing for Hoosiers dealing with opioid addiction.

• Eliminate licensing for hearing aid dealers, private investigators, security guards and auctioneers. 

nkelly@jg.net