By Ashley Steeb
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana House passed the Republicans’ $1.2 billion road funding plan Thursday with no support from Democrats.
House Bill 1002, which passed by a 61-36 vote, calls for Hoosiers to pay an additional 10 cents per gallon in gas taxes, $15 more to register vehicles and a new $150 fee for electric-powered vehicles. The bill would also give the governor permission to install toll roads without a vote by the legislature.
Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, introduces House Republicans’ road funding plan before a final vote Thursday. Photo by Erica Irish, TheStatehouseFile.com
The increases in taxes and fees may create $700 million in additional revenue over two years for infrastructure improvement.
House Democrats oppose the bill because they said it will create a tax burden for low-income Hoosier families.
House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, voiced his dislike of the bill because the taxes and fees are not affordable for the many Hoosier families. Many Hoosiers only make about $25,000 a year, he said.
“When we start to break it down and know what the real Hoosiers are doing out there. It’s not that cheap. Not that cheap for these type of people,” Pelath said.
Rep. Dan Forestal, D-Indianapolis, said the bill will increase the tax burden on the working class Hoosiers.
“Now, what is being presented is what is my opinion not just the largest tax hike in state history but the largest tax shift we will ever see,” Forestal said.
House Republicans said their road funding plan took into account what would be the best for all Hoosiers.
“We should deliver a safe and efficient, well-maintained infrastructure to our kids and grandchildren with minimal debt being handed to them,” said Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, author of the bill.
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, who rarely addresses members, said the funding plan needs to be passed because many motorists have sustained damage to their cars because of the poor condition of the state’s roads.
“Want to be brave? Want to do what we know is right for the state of Indiana?” Bosma said. “Or, do you want to do what our predecessors generally did in this chamber?”
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Ashley Steeb is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.