— Indiana Republicans drew up their plans before last year's elections. Then they used the substantial majorities they won in the House and Senate to execute those plans to perfection during the four-month legislative session that ended late Friday.

Their successes included:

- A package that will remake Indiana's education system — check.

- A structurally balanced two-year, $28 billion budget, with $1 billion in the bank at the end — done.

- New legislative and congressional district maps — drawn.

"There have been other sessions where we've done huge things, but long term, this may be the most meaningful set of changes of all," said Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels.

The biggest brawl was over education. Daniels, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett and Republican lawmakers wanted to pass wide-ranging measures.

Ultimately, Republicans got everything they wanted.

One bill will launch a statewide board with the power to authorize new charter schools and will let private colleges do so, as well. The move is expected to make that process easier, since at present a public university or a school board has to authorize charters.

Another would offer vouchers to pay for private school tuition worth $4,500 for students in grades 1 through 8, and a bit more than that for those in high school, who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Those making up to 150 percent of that amount, or about $61,000 a year for a family of four, could qualify for smaller vouchers.

And the budget includes changes to a formula through which $6.3 billion in annual K-12 funding is distributed. It eliminates Democratic-backed mechanisms that prevent schools with shrinking enrollment from suffering immediate blows to their per-pupil funding.

Gathered in Daniels' office Saturday, Republican legislative leaders said they believe this year's session will be remembered as one in which landmark education reforms were approved.

The governor also signed into law a measure that establishes a new system of evaluating teachers. School districts will be required to develop their own method of measuring the quality of their classroom instructors, and then rating those teachers in one of four categories.

Those in the lowest two categories won't be eligible for raises. Those who rate at the top could get merit pay — from their districts, or from a state fund worth $15 million over two years that was included in the $28 billion biennial budget adopted Friday night.

"The new system will not have perfect fairness, but it will be a huge improvement," Daniels said.

The new evaluations are meant to interact with another bill that restricts teachers' unions' collective bargaining rights to wages and benefits.

Detractors said that will stop teachers from using their expertise to affect education policies, but Daniels and other supporters said it will also stop hiring and firing policies that require quality young teachers to be laid off instead of older but less effective teachers.

"Indiana has leaped to the forefront in saying to people of all walks of life and all backgrounds: 'Come and teach. The doors are open. Come and teach,'" Daniels said.

"And if you're good at it and if you help our young people grow — and in particular, if you help our most vulnerable young people grow — you'll not only be protected in your job; you'll be rewarded as richly as you deserve. That's the essence of fairness to our professionals, and it's the essence of fairness to our kids."

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said 2011 "will be the session that people look back to and say, 'Hoosiers got it right.'"

All of those bills passed despite a five-week pause when House Democrats walked out of the Statehouse and went to the Comfort Suites hotel in Urbana, Ill.

The delay, from Feb. 21 through March 28, succeeded in scuttling a "right to work" bill that labor unions said would have undermined their bargaining position and in forcing tweaks to at least two more bills.

But its ultimate impact, Democrats acknowledge, will not be known until next year's election, when Democrats try to gain more than the 40 seats they now hold in the 100-member House.

"The public now knows the difference between the two parties and who stands for what, who stands for whom," House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer said.

That, he said, is "the best thing" to come of his party's boycott. He said this year's session will show Hoosiers that "it does make a difference. Elections have consequences.

"They're going to feel the consequences in their paychecks, in their schools, and even the help we give to the less fortunate," he said.

The help to which he was referring is unemployment insurance. After the slim Democratic House majority fought in 2009 and 2010 to block any reductions in benefits, Republicans succeeded in pushing through a cut that averages 25 percent.

Meanwhile, he said, Republicans backed "the elite" by reducing corporate income taxes by nearly the same percentage. He said some voters were unaware in November 2010 that Republicans would push to take steps such as those.

"I mean it was a tsunami the other way. And now, they regret their choice," Bauer said.

The entire session was made easier on April 15, when a new state revenue report forecast that Indiana would have $644 million more to spend over the next two years than lawmakers had initially expected.

What passed

- Toll roads: For the next decade, Indiana's governor will have authority sign a public-private partnership agreement to have companies build new tollways. However, roads that already exist or are already under construction could not be leased or tolled.

- Unemployment fix: Three years in a row now, lawmakers have tinkered with Indiana's bankrupt unemployment insurance fund, which has borrowed $2.1 billion from the federal government. This year's fix will cut unemployment benefits by 25 percent, while also reducing the size of a planned business tax increase.

- Corporate taxes: Businesses will see their income tax rate drop from 8.5 percent to 6.5 percent under a measure drafted by Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Lafayette.

- New maps: Republican leaders in the House and Senate completed the once-a-decade redistricting process, making Southwestern Indiana's 8th congressional district very slightly more favorable for Democratic candidates.

- Abortion restrictions: Indiana will block $3 million in Medicaid dollars from going to Planned Parenthood clinics such as the one in Evansville, and also shorten from 24 weeks to 20 weeks the amount of time into a pregnancy that a woman can have an abortion.

- Illegal immigration: Though the Arizona-style law enforcement crackdown will go to a summer study committee, Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, did get a law that will urge businesses that get government contracts or tax breaks to use the E-Verify system to check their employees' legal status.

- Gun bills: Hoosiers with licenses could take their guns to most public buildings, and also carry guns in their cars or on their personal property without licenses, under pro-gun measures shepherded through the General Assembly in part by Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville.

- Alcohol ID: No longer will senior citizens be asked to prove their age when buying alcohol. Lawmakers adjusted a law they'd passed in 2010 so that now, liquor store clerks will only have to card those who appear to be 40 or younger.

- "Spice" ban: The synthetic marijuana known as "spice" or "K2" will be illegal, and those who make, sell or use it will face the same penalties as marijuana offenders.

- Texting while driving: Sending texts and email messages while behind the wheel will be illegal, and police officers can write a ticket including a fine of up to $500, starting on July 1. That expands a texting ban to all Hoosiers that is currently in place for motorists who are under 18.

- Gay marriage: A constitutional gay marriage ban cleared the House and Senate, taking its first step toward being amended into the state's top document. It will need to clear both chambers again in either 2013 or 2014, and then win a statewide referendum in 2014, to complete the process.

What failed

- Sentencing reform: Daniels' efforts to shift low-level drug and theft offenders out of prison and into community-based programs, in hopes of freeing up enough space to avoid building new prisons, was sidelined when prosecutors dubbed it soft on crime.

- "Right to work": The bill that would allow workers to opt out of labor union membership and dues was killed when House Democrats cited it as the flashpoint that led to their decision to flee to Illinois for five weeks. It was sent to a summer study committee.

- "Charlie White rule": A measure that would have ensured that no matter the outcome of a lawsuit challenging the Indiana secretary of state's eligibility to hold office, the office would have stayed in Republican hands because the governor would have appointed his replacement, died after House Republicans deemed it an inappropriate step into pending litigation.

- Smoking ban: After the American Cancer Society and other advocates said exemptions for bars, casinos, nursing homes and fraternal clubs rendered a proposed smoking ban ineffective, a state Senate committee voted to kill once again the effort by Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, to impose such a ban.

- Gas tax cut: Democrats sought late in the session to eliminate Indiana's gas taxes for the summer, saving Hoosiers about 40 cents per gallon and costing the state about $200 million. But Republicans never gave the idea serious consideration.

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