I truly appreciate the city of Jeffersonville’s leadership and dedication to Jeffersonville’s Promise. I believe the issues at hand in House Bill 1596 – using Tax Increment Financing (TIF) dollars for education and the implications of restricting the initiative – need to be studied by the legislature before the intent and purpose of Jeffersonville’s Promise becomes unworkable.
In November 2018, Ivy Tech Community College created an ambitious plan with Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission and Jeffersonville city administration to create Jeffersonville’s Promise, a partnership that would allow Jeffersonville High School (JHS) graduates to earn a two-year college degree or certificate through Ivy Tech’s Workforce Training Program.
To make this possible, the Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission plans to commit $150,000 per year over the next five years through the TIF, which captures tax dollars from increased assessed values within a certain predetermined area.
In order to receive this tuition-only, last-dollar scholarship, JHS graduates must meet and maintain certain GPA requirements, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid each year they are enrolled and be enrolled in credit-bearing and workforce-focused courses at Ivy Tech.
This is a matter local officials in Jeffersonville and Ivy Tech Community College saw as advantageous for our community. Jeffersonville’s Promise would use locally collected tax dollars to provide JHS graduates the opportunity to attend the Ivy Tech Community College in Sellersburg. Any city, town or municipality across Indiana has the same access to establish a program like this with any state college or university – this is not exclusive to Jeffersonville. I would like to see programs like Jeffersonville’s Promise expand elsewhere in Indiana so high school graduates who may not have the opportunity become job- and career-ready.
In its current state, however, HB 1596, authored this session, would dismantle Jeffersonville’s Promise. Language recently amended into the bill would make the program more difficult to implement for two reasons. First, HB 1596 would create a restrictive and narrow list the program must meet if established after June 30, 2019. The memorandum of understanding the between city of Jeffersonville and Ivy Tech establishes Jeffersonville’s Promise on July 1, 2019, meaning the current version of HB 1596 would make the agreement void.
Second, the amended bill would prohibit TIF funds, collected from an area in Jeffersonville, from being deposited to the Ivy Tech Foundation, which is set to distribute the scholarships to JHS graduates. Indiana law already allows the Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission to spend up to 15 percent of TIF funds on a program that provides education, work training, worker retraining or any other training designed to prepare individuals to participate in the competitive and global economy under IC 36-7-25-7.
Jeffersonville’s Promise is an excellent initiative that would give graduates, many of whom may not have another chance, the opportunity to further their education and career development. Not only would it help young Hoosiers become job-ready, it would also improve the city’s workforce efforts for decades to come.
I will continue discussions on this topic at the Statehouse this session and look for additional ways to support creative local solutions like Jeffersonville’s Promise.
If you would like to share your thoughts on this issue or others, contact my office at 317-234-9425 or Senator.Grooms@iga.in.gov.
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