Legislature session ends on high note

(Bloomington) Herald-Times

The end of this session of the Indiana General Assembly included welcome news on some issues of importance to Hoosiers, including preschool funding and openness of government.

Gov. Eric Holcomb won in his effort to double spending on the state’s commitment to preschool. He wanted the $10 million state commitment to rise to $20 million on the On My Way Pre-K pilot program for children in low-income homes, but the Senate cut the commitment to $3 million in additional funds.

The final budget included $9 million for that program, along with nearly $3 million in funding for other preschool efforts. Students in more counties than the original five in the pilot program would be eligible for grants, and potential online learning is included for children who don’t have a high-quality preschool close by.

The total investment is still well short of what the state should commit to pre-K funding, which study after study shows repays itself in economic benefits later in life for those who benefit and lowers costs to the state for numerous social issues and programs.

But Holcomb had it right when he said: “This important legislation gives more children in more counties the chance to start their educational journey on the right foot. It will be a joy to sign this bill.”

Holcomb put his veto stamp on one bill he did not believe would be a joy to sign. That too is good news for Hoosiers who want to be able to keep tabs on what their governmental officials are doing.

The governor issued his first-ever veto on House Bill 1523, which would have placed significant search fees on those seeking access to public records.

In his letter to House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) and the House of Representatives, where the bill originated, Holcomb wrote:

“While I understand the intent behind the bill to offset the considerable time and expense often devoted to fulfilling public records requests, I view this proposed legislation as contrary to my commitment to providing great government service at a great value for Hoosier taxpayers. Providing access to public records is a key part of the work public servants perform and is important from a government transparency standpoint. I do not support policies that create burdensome obstacles to the public gaining access to public documents.”

He further said, though, that he supports the provision in the bill that requires public agencies to provide electronic copies of public records in an electronic format, rather than on hard copies, if requested. That would be a good step forward.

We applaud his position. Public officials and employees are doing the public’s business, and it’s important to make sure they fulfill their duties without placing unnecessary obstacles in front of the people who pay their salaries.

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