The budget plan unveiled by Indiana Senate Republicans creates a new Major Moves Trust Fund aimed at helping pay for significant transportation projects in the future. It contains more than $200 million in road funding to both state and local governments in each of the next two years. It also puts away $400 million to begin saving for projects such as the completion of I-69 and making I-65 and I-70 six lanes wide across the entire state.
Senate Appropriations Chair Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) says the trust fund is about getting the process started.
“The cost of all these projects is so big that sometimes you don’t where to start or how to start and so my thought was, ‘You need to make a commitment,’" he says. "I felt like we could afford to do the $200 million a year for at least this next biennium.”
Though Governor Mike Pence wouldn’t comment specifically on the Senate roads funding proposal, he notes his proposed budget includes more than $300 million for transportation funding.
“We’re very much of a mind that roads mean jobs and believe that increased road funding by definition should be a part of a final version of this budget.”
However, Pence’s proposal funds roads by siphoning money from state budget reserves. Kenley says he thinks it’s better to use permanent General Fund money.
The Senate spending plan must be reconciled with the House proposal. Lawmakers have said they're waiting on the April state revenue forecast before finalizing a two year state budget.