INDIANAPOLIS – It’s all about the money this legislative session – how much Indiana has, where it should be spent and how much in taxes and fees to raise on Hoosiers.

Education, controversial social issues and gaming might also find their way into the mix but lawmakers will spend the majority of time passing a new two-year budget and funding a 20-year infrastructure plan.

The Senate kicks off Tuesday and the House follows Wednesday. But with a new governor and other statewide office holders not being sworn in until Jan. 9, the session will likely start slow.

Budget

Lawmakers have only one true duty: pass a biennial budget by April 29. The last two-year plan spent about $30 billion.

“It’s going to be lean times,” predicted House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) – despite a $2 billion surplus.

Lawmakers got good news with recent revenue forecasts predicting that Indiana will take in an additional $1 billion in tax revenue in the budget period running from July 1, 2017, through June 2019. But Bosma and other leaders are still preaching prudence and caution.

“Indiana’s very fortunate, but it’s by design not by accident to be in good shape fiscally,” said Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

In Indiana, about 54 percent of the state budget goes to K-12 schools. Another 12 percent goes to higher education. That leaves 36 percent of the budget for everything else – child protection, police, prisons, environment, natural resources, Medicaid and more.

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