EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb addressed the future of public education during the State of the State address Tuesday night.
The Governor spoke before a joint session of the Indiana House and Senate nearly two months after several thousand teachers attended a statehouse rally calling for better pay.
Governor Holcomb stated a good education starts with great schools filled with great teachers. He knows the importance of them, too. His mother was an educator. He wants to see their pay be competitive with surrounding states.
Governor Holcomb created a Teacher Compensation Commission and asked them to come up with a sustainable plan to make sure teacher salaries are competitive with other mid-western states.
“Their report is due this spring, but we did not wait," Governor Holcomb said.
He says last year, the state devoted an unprecedented increase of 763 million new dollars to K-12 education.
“Including paying down $150 million in the teacher retirement fund, which freed up $65 million more a year for teacher pay increases,” Governor Holcomb explained.
He says all school corporations have finalized their locally bargained contracts.
The Governor also recommended in the next budget, that the general assembly uses an additional $250 million from their surplus and put it towards teacher retirement funds.
Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke was there to hear the remarks.
"In turn, $50 million a year will be generated to redirect to teacher pay,” Holcomb stated. “Together, that’s $115 million more available annually, year after year, to increase teacher pay.”
He says there’s more to come from the Teacher Compensation Commission when they release their recommendations.
Plans are also being made to work with the K-12 community to cut out unfunded mandates and unnecessary paperwork.
Holcomb says he’ll see to it that last year’s i-Learn test scores don’t adversely affect evaluations or school letter grades, along with providing resources outside of the building.
"We’ll make sure every school in the state has a relationship with a mental health provider,” Holcomb added.
His speech didn’t start or stop at the classroom doors.
The Governor also spoke on many other topics including the economy, investments, infrastructure, and second chance employers.