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Indiana Senate panel advances family financial supports, inflation relief legislation

A woman in a green dress stands at a lectern as she testifies to the Senate Appropriations Committee in the Indiana Senate chamber. A lawmaker, Senator Jon Ford, sits to the woman's left and looks on.
Brandon Smith
/
IPB News
Republicans intend a financial supports bill for pregnant people, families and children to be a companion to their abortion ban, which is expected to put significant strain on existing resources.

A Senate committee unanimously approved a bill Tuesday that would spend $50 million on financial supports and resources for pregnant people, children and families.

Republicans intend the measure, SB 2 (ss), to be a companion to their abortion ban, which is expected to put significant strain on existing resources.

The money would be spent by state agencies on organizations and services for pregnant Hoosiers, including access to contraception and pregnancy planning, child care and support for foster and adoptive care.

Many organizations that provide such services testified in support of the bill. But many also shared a common refrain: more money is good. But $50 million isn’t enough.

READ MORE: House committee passes inflation relief and family supports bill, expands relief eligibility

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IUPUI professor Erin Macey has been studying financial support for pregnant Hoosiers.

“Indiana has a $6 billion surplus and what you’ve proposed to spend on support for moms and babies in SB 2 represents less than 1 percent of that surplus," Macey said. "Mothers are the foundation of our society and this does not show them that they are valued.”

Sen. Ryan Mishler (R-Bremen) called the bill “bridge funding” meant to help the state get through the next several months until lawmakers write a new state budget next year.

The committee also unanimously advanced an inflation relief measure that would allow the average Hoosier household to save about $20 a month for the next six months.

That legislation, SB 3 (ss), would suspend, for six months, the state sales tax you pay on your utility bills – electricity, water, gas, internet and phone. It also caps the sales tax on gasoline and rolls back a one-penny-per-gallon gas tax increase. But those are unlikely to make a difference at the pump.

The rest of the money in the bill would be spent on state construction projects and paying down teacher pension fund debt.

School and teacher organizations applauded the measure. But as David Marcotte from the Indiana Urban Schools Association told lawmakers, schools could use even more help as they deal with inflation and an ongoing teacher shortage.

“We are committed to increasing teacher and support staff salaries but current budget strains will cause hesitation,” Marcotte said.

The House has a competing inflation relief bill that would send $225 checks to taxpayers.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri.