By Shelby Mullis
INDIANAPOLIS — Lawmakers have finally found a “sweet spot” in the state’s road funding plan, something House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, calls the “strongest road investment in our state’s history.”
Bosma joined Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, and other key budget leaders Thursday afternoon to announce the details of the “comprehensive, responsible and sustainable” road-funding plan.
The $1.2 billion plan would allocate nearly $870 million in new annual funding for state roads and bridges and an average of $340 million for new local roads and bridges by 2024.
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis. Photo by Dustin Beach, TheStatehouseFile.com
Under the proposal, Hoosiers would pay an additional 10 cents per gallon of gasoline, special fuel and motor carrier surcharge taxes. The tax would be phased in annually over the course of seven years beginning in fiscal year 2018, but would not be raised more than one cent per year.
The plan would also gradually shift all remaining sales tax on gasoline purchases starting in 2020 to the State Highway Fund. All sales tax would be transferred over to fund the state’s roads and infrastructure by 2025.
“It meets our personal goal of transferring over time the sales tax on gas to roads so that Hoosiers, everything they pay at the pump gets to roads,” Bosma said. “It also meets the Senate’s goal of budget assurance and stability.”
The plan encourages discussion of potential toll roads through a long-term study completed by the Indiana Department of Transportation. INDOT could then submit a waiver to the federal government that would allow tolling of existing interstates.
While Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said he would have liked to see more done on to tolling, he said the public would have to be educated about the need for toll roads to fund infrastructure.
“I wanted to be more aggressive about that, but we have language in there that gives the governor the opportunity to get started on that conversation,” Kenley said. “Probably my response should be, you know you can’t always get everything you want at the time you want, but we’ve got the stage set for this to happen.”
Aim CEO Matt Greller said in a statement that the overall measure accomplishes Aim’s goal to pass a long-term road funding strategy for local communities. Aim stands for Accelerating Indiana’s municipalities.
Through a new $15 annual fee on all vehicles, a $150 annual fee on electric vehicles and $50 for hybrids registered in the state, local governments would also receive road funding through Indiana’s Community Crossing Matching Grant Fund.
Kenley said he and fellow lawmakers are on the glide path to the right direction, and Gov. Eric Holcomb agreed.
“This plan provides the tools necessary to maintain what we have, finish what we started, and invest in the future,” Holcomb said in a statement Thursday.
Both the House and Senate will vote on the bill Friday. If it passes both chambers, it will head to Holcomb’s desk for final consideration.
Shelby Mullis is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.