Indiana lawmakers back to work, facing tight budget, hate crimes debate

FILE - In this June 12, 2014, file photo, Indiana Senate President Pro Tempore David Long welcomes delegates meeting to set up the framework for states to amend the U.S. Constitution, at the Statehouse in Indianapolis. The 2016 November election put Republicans in full control of a record number of state legislatures around the country, a level of power that gives the party an unprecedented opportunity: change the U.S. Constitution. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana lawmakers could struggle to give more than minimal funding increases to public schools in the new state budget that will emerge from this year’s legislative session.

Members of the General Assembly will return Thursday, Jan. 3, to the Statehouse in Indianapolis for a session expected to last until late April.

Republicans are entering their seventh year of super-majorities in both the House and the Senate that give them complete control of legislative action. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and GOP legislative leaders have said boosting teacher pay is a top priority, but that will compete for money with growing Medicaid and child protection expenses.

The legislative session could get sidetracked by a possible heated debate over adopting a state hate crimes law and proposals to allow sports betting in the state.

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