Senator Decries Legislature’s “Education Session”

Senator Jim Arnold
Senator Jim Arnold

A local lawmaker says the recently completed session of the Indiana General Assembly was the most trying and most contentious of his nine-year legislative career. Gov. Mike Pence touted it as the education session. Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte, agrees this year’s 2.2 percent increase in school funding and next year’s 2.5 percent hike are the largest increases in education funding in history.

“It sounds very good. The downside of that is that the vast majority of our increased money now is going to vouchers and going to charter schools, not going to public school systems,” Arnold recently told the Starke County Council and Commissioners. “The big winners of this are going to be the urban schools. The rural schools such as Knox are going to be the big losers.”

Arnold also notes a significant chunk of the school funding increase goes to vouchers.

“In 2015 we had authorization to fund 28,000 vouchers in the state of Indiana. That goes up to 36,000 in 2016 and it jumps up to 40,000 in 2017.”

Arnold adds he’s never voted for the voucher program.

“I believe in public taxes for public education. If you want to send your childi to a private school, God bless you. I support you on that. I think the family should supply it, not the taxpayers. Public taxes need to go to public education.”

Arnold says the latest state budget is part of an ongoing effort to strip funding from public schools.