INDIANAPOLIS — Six university projects will receive one-time surplus funding for capital projects in a bill that passed the Indiana House with bipartisan support Monday.
The bill uses $291 million in revenue for building construction and improvements at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital ($73 million), Indiana University ($62 million for bicentennial projects), Ball State University STEM and Health Professions facilities ($59.9 million), the University of Southern Indiana Health Professions classroom renovation ($48 million, including paying off some existing debt), Ivy Tech Community College’s Columbus Campus ($30 million) and renovations at Indiana State University’s Dreiser Hall ($18.4 million).
Seventy-seven members voted for the bill, including 11 Democrats, while 21 members voted against the bill.
Democrats had supported several amendments toward “human capital” projects such as pre-K funding, teacher salary increases and addressing prescription drug costs.
“I supported our efforts to amend the bill to redirect some of that money towards human capital … but none of those amendments passed,” Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, said. “In the end, I think you’ve got to be pragmatic and try to be fiscally responsible where you can. If we can pay for those things up front, let’s get it out of the way and then let’s take the savings and use it for other things.”
Austin said she anticipated the state would see more unexpected revenue from sports betting and the installation of table games at the casinos in Shelbyville and Anderson.
The extra revenue prompted lawmakers to fund the projects with one-time surplus money instead of through additional debt obligations.
“We’ve acted responsibly to position ourselves well because you never know what’s coming down the line,” Rep. Todd Huston, R-Fishers, said. Huston co-authored the bill with Rep. Timothy Brown, R-Crawfordsville.
“We should continue because we had been financially responsible in prior years,” Huston said, touting the projected $20 million saved annually by the bill for a total of $137 million.
“That’s real money and I will be watching to see how we spend that $20 million and offering my ideas,” Austin said. “We’ve got a little bit of fiscal responsibility and we’ll have some other money that we maybe could redirect into the areas we want to see it directed to.”