By Adrianna Pitrelli
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana House is moving forward with a road funding bill that would raise gas taxes by 10 cents per gallon and allow for future tolling of the state’s highways.
Tuesday, the House considered amendments to House Bill 1002, which would raise $700 million in additional funds for infrastructure over the next two years.
House Republicans rebuffed every attempt by Democrats to find additional ways to finance the road funding plan other than raising taxes.
As part of the plan, Republicans also want to increase the vehicle registration fee by $15 and add a $150 fee on electric-powered vehicles.
Although the Republicans have received criticism for potential road tolling, the author of the bill, Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, said adding toll roads isn’t imminent. A study will first be required to see if tolling is the most beneficial way to raise funds.
“We want to first ensure we have a balanced approach,” Soliday said. “If we do do tolling, we are going to start somewhere other than where we have current tolling.”
If passed, the bill would not allow new toll roads to be within 75 miles of current toll roads.
House Democrats proposed what they call a “better, simpler plan” that doesn’t raise taxes, removes tolling provisions and would require that new infrastructure projects employ Hoosiers. Their proposed amendments were defeated.
Rep. Dan Forestal, D-Indianapolis, said his constituents don’t want to see a tax increase, especially if they don’t think they will benefit in the foreseeable future.
“It’s just 10 cents, true. But remember this: The shift keeps happening over and over and the gap between the poor and the wealthy keeps growing wider,” Forestal said.
HB 1002 will be seen once more by the House, and if passed, will head to the Senate.
Adrianna Pitrelli is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.