By Dustin Beach
INDIANAPOLIS – Several amendments were offered on Thursday to the state’s two-year budget, but only one saw positive results.
The successful amendment, offered by Rep. Lloyd Arnold, R-Leavenworth, would allow state conservation officers to be under the same pay raise system as other state police officers.
“Initially their raises were going to be a little bit separate from the state police,” said Arnold. “This moves them back in to the same metrics; they’re going be getting the same amount.”
The amendment passed unanimously on the House floor.
One failed amendment offered by Rep. Heath VanNatter, R-Kokomo, would have ended the moratorium on building nursing homes in counties which have less than a 90 percent bed occupancy rate. The moratorium is until 2021. The amendment failed 43-48.
A similar bill was killed amid controversy during the 2014 session, when former Rep. Eric Turner urged his colleagues to vote against it. Following an ethics investigation, it was found that Turner had ties to nursing homes and his family business may have been harmed by the moratorium. Turner was forced to resign following the investigation.
House Democrats tried their hand at moving their priorities into the state’s budget, but failed to gain support as none of their amendments passed.
Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis offered two variations of the budget, one which would cut spending by more than $300 million and another which divided the money set aside by the budget to allocated differently than proposed.
In total, more than a dozen amendments were offered by lawmakers ranging from the conservation officers and nursing home moratorium to fixing the Statehouse elevators and funding spaying and neutering pets. Almost all the failed amendments were split on party lines.
The House will vote on the proposed budget plan on Monday. The $31 billion budget includes a $1 cigarette tax hike to improve Hoosiers health and provide road funding revenue. K-12 education would see a total increase of $273 million over the next two fiscal years in the House Republicans’ current plan.
Dustin Beach is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.