Indiana Senate passes budget

The Senate has approved its version of the budget, but the real work is just starting.

House and Senate negotiators will recalculate their spending plans starting Wednesday, when the legislature’s fiscal analysts deliver an updated forecast of how much the state should have to work with for the next two years. The Senate budget leaves 300-million dollars more in reserve than the House, in anticipation of needing to plug gaps in what’s expected to be a weaker forecast than the last one in December.

The plan boosts school funding five-percent over two years while slightly trimming Governor Holcomb’s funding boost for the Department of Child Services.

South Bend Democrat David Niezgodski joined Republicans in voting for the budget but warns he’ll flip to no if the final version doesn’t restore a “13th check” retirement bonus payment the state has routinely paid retired teachers and state employees for 11 years.

House and Senate negotiators have a week to reach agreement on a final plan after the forecast is released.