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GENERAL ASSEMBLY

House plan boosts school funds

– House Ways and Means Chairman Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale, will unveil a proposal early next week to spend as much as $100 million on K-12 education.

He declined to give details, but House Speaker Brian Bosma said earlier in the day that Espich will be focusing on more money for full-day kindergarten.

Espich said the spending is possible because of changes to the revenue forecast in December that showed an additional $140 million a year in ongoing revenue.

“We have to remember our core responsibility and that’s education,” he said.

Espich said a second area of new spending will provide an additional $5 million to compensate victims of the Indiana State Fair stage collapse tragedy. The state attorney general has already paid out $5 million to victims but couldn’t fully compensate everyone.

The budget additions will be inserted into House Bill 1376 – a vehicle bill used for unanticipated legislation.

No vote on anthem

An Indiana legislator’s proposal for a state law regulating performances of the national anthem won’t get a vote this session.

The proposal from Republican Sen. Vaneta Becker of Evansville would have required any performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in a public place to be performed in its entirety and without embellishment.

She had earlier proposed a bill for the state education department to set standards for singing and playing of the national anthem at public schools.

Senate Education Committee Chairman Dennis Kruse of Auburn withdrew the bill from consideration.

Kruse said the bill drew attention to the need for respect toward the anthem, but he doesn’t believe a state law is needed.

Becker said she doesn’t plan to push the proposal later this session.

State savings

An Indiana Senate committee is advancing a plan to put more money into state savings accounts before automatic tax refunds go to taxpayers.

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted Thursday to rework the state’s automatic tax refund.

Republican Sen. Luke Kenley said the state should sock away more money before it begins sending automatic refunds.

Lawmakers last year approved Gov. Mitch Daniels’ plan to automatically send a portion of the state’s savings back to taxpayers.

Cash the state saves above 10 percent of its planned spending now is split evenly between the tax refund and a fund designed to pay down teacher pension liabilities.

The plan still faces consideration by the full Senate and the House.

It would not take effect for at least a year.

nkelly@jg.net

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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