- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 24, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Latest on the final days of the Indiana legislative session (all times local):

11:05 p.m.

Indiana lawmakers have approved a new state budget increasing base school funding by 2.5% percent each of the next two years as they brought this year’s legislative session to a close.

The House and Senate votes Wednesday night came after Republicans touted the spending plan as making strides toward improving the state’s lagging teacher pay. Republicans say it is a responsible plan that protects the state in case of an economic downturn by maintaining its $2 billion in cash reserves.

But Democrats faulted it for actually doing little to boost teacher salaries or fund other needed programs such as subsidies to adoptive parents and youth suicide prevention programs.



Democratic Sen. Karen Tallian of Portage calls the Republican budget plan “too meager, too tight fisted.”

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8:25 p.m.

Indiana legislators have approved a wide-ranging gambling bill that legalizes sports betting in the state and allows new casinos in Terre Haute and Gary.

The House and Senate both voted Wednesday to support the proposal hours after a final agreement was reached adding payments to Evansville and three northwestern Indiana cities that are expecting tax revenue hits from the new casinos competing with those in their communities.

A proposed $40 million tax credit to the new owner of the current Gary casinos was dropped, but negotiators say tax changes could save Spectacle Entertainment a similar amount over five years.

The bill would also legalize sports betting in the state possibly starting as early as this fall if it is signed into law by the governor. The horse track casinos in Anderson and Shelbyville will be allowed to have table games with live dealers starting Jan. 1, 2020. That’s 18 months earlier than allowed under current law.

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6:45 p.m.

A deal on Indiana’s wide-ranging gambling bill adds payments to four cities that are expecting tax revenue hits over new casinos that would be allowed in Terre Haute and Gary.

The proposal expected to be voted on by legislators Wednesday night would have the city of Gary make payments to the cities of Hammond, East Chicago and Michigan City from its expected growth in casino taxes. The deal would have the Terre Haute casino operator make payments to the city of Evansville over three years.

A proposed $40 million tax credit to the new owner of the current Gary casinos was dropped, but negotiators say tax changes could save Spectacle Entertainment a similar amount over four years.

The bill would also legalize sports betting in the state possibly starting as early as this fall. The horse track casinos in Anderson and Shelbyville will be allowed to have table games with live dealers starting Jan. 1, 2020.

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1:15 p.m.

Indiana lawmakers are still negotiating final versions of a wide-ranging gambling bill and a proposal to start taxing the liquids used in electronic cigarettes as they near the end of this year’s legislative session.

House and Senate leaders are aiming to wrap up the session Wednesday with votes on numerous bills, most importantly a new state budget. The Republican spending plan would increases base school funding by 2.5% percent each of the next two years but faces criticism that it won’t do enough to increase teacher pay.

Republican Rep. Matt Lehman of Berne says gambling bill negotiators are trying to settle differences over shielding cities that might take tax revenue hits over new casinos that would be allowed in Terre Haute and Gary.

The House has backed imposing an excise tax on vaping liquids similar to that charged for cigarettes, but the Senate has resisted the proposal.

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5:40 a.m.

This year’s Indiana legislative session could end Wednesday with votes expected on a new state budget plan and a proposal legalizing sports betting and allowing new casinos in Terre Haute and Gary.

Republican legislative leaders on Tuesday released a state spending plan that increases base school funding by 2.5% percent each of the next two years.

They touted that proposal as making strides toward improving the state’s lagging teacher pay. But the state’s largest teachers union expressed frustration over the level of school funding and lack of action on teacher pay.

Negotiators were still working Tuesday on a final agreement on the gambling bill. The latest version would allow the Indiana Gaming Commission issue regulations and start approving casinos for sports wagering beginning July 1.

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