The Indiana General Assembly met for the first time in 2017 this week with a full plate of legislative issues before them. Chief among agenda items facing the legislator is funding of a new budget. The Senate laid out plans on Tuesday for the creation of a new two-year budget that will address highway funding. David Long, the Republican Senate Pro Temp, indicated that options are on the table in finding a viable long-term funding plan. “We’re in a situation where we need to either do something or be left behind,” Long said on the floor of the Senate.
As with many states in the Union, Indiana is caught in the vise grips of increasing cost to fix their deteriorating roads and bridges at the same time they face falling revenues dedicated to highway funding. While infrastructure repair has been a prime issue in the legislature for several years, no compromised has been reached. During last year’s session, the Senate GOP had opposed any tax increase to fund road repair. But this year, the Senate seem much more amendable to the House’s funding measures. House GOP have put forward a plan that calls for an additional state tax of ten cents per gallon. This would cost the average Hoosier $48 per year. The plan also call for an additional registration fee for cars, and a road tax of $150 to be paid by electric cars. The GOP leadership estimates these changes will raise an additional eight hundred million in revenue per year. The changes teamed with possible new highway tolls are expected to raise the 1.2 billion per year seen as necessary for the long term health of Indiana roads. The upcoming weeks will see debate on the floor over the type and rates of tax increases.