By Shelby D. Salazar
INDIANAPOLIS – A key piece of Gov. Mike Pence’s legislative agenda aims to provide $418 million to local governments for road and bridge improvements, construction or other needs.
“Putting close to half a billion dollars into local communities around this state in an immediate fashion, and to help them with infrastructure issues at no cost to Hoosier taxpayers makes a very strong statement for our commitment not only to infrastructure, but to fiscal responsibility,” said the bill’s author, Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek.
The funds for Senate Bill 67 would come from a county’s local income tax revenue.
Initial estimates show that Marion County would receive $49 million, the second largest amount out of the 92 counties. Hamilton County is estimated to receive the largest amount, $56.4 million.
75 percent of the proposed funds must be used by a county for road or bridge improvements including construction, maintenance, payment on loans used to finance road-related projects or buying new equipment. The funds could also be applied to capital aviation projects or placed in a rainy day fund.
Any remaining funds could be used as the county sees fit.
“I’m pleased that this bill has generated the attention that it has, and Gov. Pence has graciously included it in his legislative agenda,” said Hershman.
Sen. John Broden, D-South Bend, the ranking minority member of the committee, is supportive of this bill and has indicated his support to Hershman. Broden is concerned about this being a one-time solution, and not a long-term, sustainable solution.
“However, a short-term solution is better than no solution,” Broden said.
Senate Republicans listed the bill in the top spot on their agenda Tuesday morning.
The bill was referred to the Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy. Hershman is the chair of this committee. If the bill passes, it would take effect on May 1, 2016.
Shelby D. Salazar is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.