Education is always a big topic in the Indiana General Assembly, and this year will be no exception. Hoosier lawmakers begin their 2017 legislative session today with a slate of school-related issues to address.

Money will be the first item on the list.

The General Assembly creates a new state budget every two years, and 2017 is a budget year. The state government is spending $9.3 billion — about 30 percent of all annual appropriations — on primary and secondary schools this year in Indiana.

"Every year, K-12 spending has been the number one issue with legislators and where most legislators want to put more funding," said Sen. Ryan Mishler, a Bremen Republican who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee and chairs the panel's School Funding Subcommittee. "I would like to see an increase in K-12 funding."

Rep. Dale DeVon, a Granger Republican who sits on the House Education Committee, expects lawmakers will also take a look at how the state's education dollars are spent.

"A big percentage of our dollars aren't all in the classroom, they're in administration," DeVon said. "The bottom line is the committee is going to remain focused on children and keeping quality people in the classroom to help children succeed."

This year's session will be the seventh in a row where the Indiana GOP has complete control of the Statehouse with large majorities in the House and Senate as well as a Republican in the governor's office. That has caused frustration among Democrats who haven't been able to stop the expansion of Indiana's school voucher program or other measures the party opposes.

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