By Shelby Mullis
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana House Democrats are proposing a road funding plan that would use existing state funds while prioritizing local and preexisting road projects.
The “No New Taxes Indiana Road Plan” is an alternative to the House GOP’s proposal to increase the Hoosier gas tax by 10 cents a gallon to fund.
House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, and House Democratic leaders proposed their “No New Taxes Indiana Road Plan” Monday. The plan would eliminate any new taxes to fund infrastructure. Photo by Lucas Lloyd, TheStatehouseFile.com
“For too long, we’ve seen our roads and bridges fall into a state of disrepair,” said House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City. “We’ve seen them not keep up with the rest of the nation, and we strongly believe that we need to put people to work and allow people to get to work. The best way to do that is to reinvest in our state’s crumbling infrastructure system.”
Under his proposal, Pelath said the state would implement Hoosier-made materials and workers in order to strengthen economic development and job growth in Indiana.
Compared to the Republicans’ proposed $1.2 billion per year road spending plan, the Democrats call for $782 million in spending in fiscal year 2018, increasing each year until it reaches $922 million in fiscal year 2021.
To make up for not raising the gas tax, the Democrats’ plan would freeze corporate and high-earner tax breaks and immediately put every penny paid at the pump, both through the gas tax and sales tax, toward infrastructure.
The Democratic plan also proposes to collect $300 million each year by cutting government waste, fraud and abuse in spending.
Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, sponsor of the GOP plan, and House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said the Democrats’ “No New Taxes Indiana Road Plan” would not work.
“The House Democrat’s proposed plan is missing responsible, sustainable, long-term funding. They do not fully understand our current and future infrastructure needs and they have a plan that is lacking in data to back up their proposal,” Soliday said.
While Pelath said he hopes to see a bipartisan funding plan by the end of the legislative session in April, he encouraged all House Democrats to review Soliday’s bill and listen to Hoosiers’ opinions when structuring the plan.
“The problem we have up to this point is not a problem of revenue. It is a problem of priorities,” Pelath said. “Priorities have not been granted to the things that ail the state egregious , the things that are the limitation on our future economic growth, and that’s people getting to work and people moving around the services and goods that they provide to the people of our nation. That’s first.”
Shelby Mullis is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.