Securing bus funding for Hamilton Southeastern Schools

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By State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis)

Sen. Jim Merritt represents Fishers in the Indiana State Senate where he has served for 24 years. You may contact him by phone at 232-9400 or by email at Senator.Merritt@iga.in.gov.

Sen. Jim Merritt represents Fishers in the Indiana State Senate where he has served for 24 years. You may contact him by phone at 232-9400 or by email at Senator.Merritt@iga.in.gov.

If students can’t get to school, they can’t get a good education. Many Hoosier families depend on safe and reliable bus transportation provided by school corporations to take their children to and from school each day.

Unfortunately, recent budget shortfalls have jeopardized bus systems at some schools across the state, including Hamilton Southeastern in Fishers.

During the most recent legislative session, lawmakers worked to help struggling schools find a solution to their transportation concerns. Though it didn’t gain much attention, a new law was passed that will significantly benefit our Hamilton Southeastern school system.

House Enrolled Act 1062, which I co-sponsored, allows school corporations that have lost at least 10 percent of their transportation fund levies to use money from other funds to pay for transportation through 2016. With an estimated loss of 13.1 percent, Hamilton Southeastern qualifies for this protection.

Transportation fund losses – like Hamilton Southeastern is experiencing – are due, in part, to recent property tax reforms that prioritized debt payments to make sure local governments could keep their financial commitments.

I supported this reform because when schools and other local governments issue debt, they have a moral obligation to keep their promise to pay it back.

Though this is a fiscally responsible change, it created some challenges for certain school corporations. State leaders recognize this, and are committed to helping these schools adapt to the new system.

HEA 1062 will give schools flexibility to spread out transportation costs and restructure debt; ensuring bus fleets remain intact and capable of providing a vital service to residents.

But the new law also encourages schools to maintain fiscal responsibility going forward. Like all units of government, school corporations must be good stewards of taxpayer funds.

Keeping taxes low and government efficient are strong Hoosier values. Commitment to these principles helps grow our economy and maintain the fiscal stability that our state is known for around the country.

As your state senator, I will continue to promote smart government while ensuring vital public services are funded and providing the intended benefits to Hoosiers.

Remember, you can always contact me by phone at 232-9400 or by email at Senator.Merritt@iga.in.gov with feedback or questions.

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