- Associated Press - Friday, October 9, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana Gov. Mike Pence announced a boost in school safety spending on Friday, just months after signing a two-year budget that drastically cut funding for the same types of improvements.

Citing the recent deadly shooting at a community college in Oregon, the Republican governor said in a statement that he would make an additional $3.5 million in safety grants available through the Secured School Safety Grant Program, increasing the total funding available this year to $9 million.

“We have no higher priority than to ensure the security of our children and faculty at our schools,” Pence said in a statement.

But the same school safety program that he is now increasing funding for was slashed by more than half in the state’s two-year budget, which went into effect in July.

Lawmakers created the program after 20 students and six adult staffers were killed in a 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Amid fanfare and a bill signing ceremony with Pence, the state set aside $20 million in 2013 to help school districts hire police officers and buy safety equipment.

This year, the state quietly appropriated just $7 million. State officials said a larger sum of money was not needed because one-time school upgrades have already been made.

The Indiana Democratic Party criticized Pence in a statement, questioning why funding was cut in the first place.

“For the Pence Administration to say earlier this year that certain aspects of the program were no longer necessary, then decide they are, shows the governor’s ideology got in the way of sound decision-making,” Democratic Party Chairman John Zody said in a statement. “School safety should have been - and should always be - a priority for Mike Pence. Period.”

The additional financing came from “excess” homeland security funds that had gone unspent in a previous year, the governor’s office said in an email.


This story has been corrected to show the school shooting was in Newtown, Connecticut, not Newton.

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