Saturday, March 7, 2020

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #344 – March 7, 2020

Dear Friends,

Your help is needed this weekend on two issues. Please contact legislators on two Conference Committees before 9am this Monday morning (March 9).


It was a sneak attack against funding for traditional public schools.

Amendment 6 to House Bill 1065 was filed Monday morning March 2nd just minutes before the filing deadline for consideration this session.

Amendment 6 to House Bill 1065 was filed after all committees had stopped meeting, circumventing all opportunities for public testimony.

With fall elections looming, Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Holcomb had tried to muzzle attacks on traditional public schools this session to keep from riling up the thousands of educators who marched on the Statehouse last November. Their muzzling act has now failed. Educators are riled and you should be too if you are an advocate of public education.

What did Amendment 6 do? It allowed charter schools for the first time to get a share of property tax referendum money when local school boards ask property taxpayers to raise taxes. This bad idea to divert some of the referendum money from traditional public schools to charters was defeated last session but has been raised again in this sneak attack as a “may” provision, seen as a step to next session’s effort to make it a “shall” provision.

The huge policy shift of this amendment was recognized by 16 Republican senators who voted “No.” The vote ended in a tie, 25-25. Lt. Governor Crouch vote “Yes” and the amendment passed, thus linking Governor Holcomb to the ire of public education advocates, just when he was trying to smooth things over for the election.

Ironically, this amendment to divert more money to charter schools was passed on the same afternoon that a different amendment failed saying charter schools should have state audits to prevent the $68 million fraud case in virtual charter schools from ever happening again. The effort to reform charter school audits went down 20-30.

Thus the shocking and unbelievable Senate response last Monday to the horrible $68 million virtual school fraud scandal was this: leave weak audits for charter schools in place and then divert property tax dollars from traditional public schools to charter schools in a new way.

Voters need to remember these actions and inactions in November.

Amazingly, the only Democrat to vote in favor came from Senator Tallian, who has since said it was a mistake. She is no doubt hoping as public school advocates are hoping that this provision, Sections 31-36, will die in the Conference Committee on HB 1065, which will meet on Monday, March 9, at 9:00 am to reconcile the House version and the Senate version of House Bill 1065.

Talking Points

Your help is needed! Contact the members of the Conference Committee on HB 1065 listed below with some or all of the following talking points:
  • This major change to the content of HB 1065 was passed without any opportunity for public testimony. This subverts the democratic process. It should be deferred to the budget session next year.
  • Charter schools often enroll students from outside the district. Allowing charter schools to receive referendum dollars from district taxpayers who don’t want to support out-of-district students may make referendum elections more difficult to pass.
  • In addition to tuition support from the funding formula, charter schools already get $750 per ADM that traditional schools don’t get to cover operating expenses.
  • Not one single public school asked for this language. Suggestions that this is being done to give public schools more “freedom” are misleading.
  • There is zero evidence that allowing charter schools access to referendum funds would make the referendum more likely to pass.
  • HB 1065 in Sections 37-39 also proposes TIF districts, originally devised to help distressed areas, to be expanded to residential housing developments, further eroding the property tax levies available to support public schools, libraries and other taxing units. The 935 TIF districts in Indiana already capture $30 billion in Assessed Value which supports TIF projects and not public schools or other governmental units.
Take Action!

In addition to your own Senator and House member, please contact the caucus leaders Sen. Bray-R ( Sen. Lanane-D ( Rep. Huston-R ( Rep. Bosma-R ( Rep. GiaQuinta-D) (

Then contact members of the Conference Committee on HB 1605 to object to this sneak attack to divert property tax money from traditional public schools to charter schools:

Conferees to contact on HB 1065: Rep. Thompson-R (chair) (, Rep. Porter –D ( , Sen. Holdman (, Sen. Melton (

Advisors to contact on HB 1065: Rep. Tim Brown-R ( Rep. Mayfield – R (, Rep. Cherry (, Rep. Jordan (, Rep. DeLaney-D (, Rep. Hamilton – D (, Rep. Pierce – D (, Rep. Pryor –D (, Sen. Bohacek – R (, Sen. Rogers –R ( Sen. Niezgodski –R (


Also meeting Monday morning March 9th at 9:30am is the Conference Committee on HB 1066. The House included voucher expansion costing, according to the Legislative Services Agency, between $6 million and $12 million to provide private school vouchers for foster students and their foster family siblings. Senator Mishler, in the Senate Appropriations Committee, took out the voucher expansion, saying he didn’t want to open the budget for this purpose when many other requests to open the budget were rejected.

Now the two versions of HB 1066 will be reconciled by the Conferees listed below. Let them know that the budget should not be opened for school voucher expansion, especially when it was not opened to address the huge issue of teacher pay!

Conferees to contact on HB 1066: Rep. Thompson-R (chair) (, Rep. Vernon Smith –D ( , Sen. Raatz-R (, Sen. Stoops-D (

Advisors to contact on HB 1066: Rep. Behning-R ( Rep. Bacon – R (, Rep. DeLaney-D (, Rep. Klinker – D (, Rep. Pfaff – D (, Sen. Buchanan – R (, Sen. Melton- D (

Any and all messages you can send to lawmakers this weekend on either issue will help public education.

Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support ICPE lobbying efforts. As of July 1st, the start of our new membership year, it is time for all ICPE members to renew their membership.

Our lobbyist Joel Hand is representing ICPE extremely well in the 2020 short session. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998. In 2013 I was honored to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from the IU School of Education, and in 2014 I was honored to be named to the Teacher Education Hall of Fame by the Association for Teacher Education – Indiana. In April of 2018, I was honored to receive the 2018 Friend of Education Award from the Indiana State Teachers Association.


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