road funding

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An 11th-hour federal transportation bill the president signed last month adds $50 million in annual federal funds each year to Indiana’s transportation budget, but some people say that money might not make much of a difference in solving the state’s maintenance needs.

The bill, called the FAST Act, gives Indiana a billion dollars annually through 2020. INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield says it’s the first long-term transportation bill the federal government has released in years.

Gretchen Frazee / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Republican legislative leaders say Governor Mike Pence Tuesday was clear in his State of the State about the necessity of protecting religious freedom when it comes to the debate over LGBT rights, but Democratic leaders say Pence failed to provide any leadership.

Courtesy Governor Mike Pence

Governor Mike Pence Tuesday laid out his plan for Indiana’s future – emphasizing a commitment to road funding, promising to protect teachers and schools from abnormally low test scores, and pledging to crack down on drug dealers. 

Robert Carr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/myconstructionphotos/1525875787/

Tuesday was a good first day in the legislature for two pieces of road funding legislation supported by Governor Mike Pence.

Governor Pence’s road funding plan uses $241 million from the state’s budget reserves to immediately fund state road and bridge maintenance. 

It also provides $240 million through bonding -- which some lawmakers balk at. 

Their concern is paying off bonds over 20 years for road repairs that only last about seven years. 

But Office of Management and Budget director Micah Vincent says the bonds wouldn’t be used for short-term fixes.

State of Indiana / http://www.in.gov/

Tuesday’s State of the State will be Governor Mike Pence’s fourth address to a joint session of the General Assembly. 

Like previous years, Pence is expected to make the case for his legislative priorities – those include state and local road funding, shielding teachers and schools from a precipitous drop in ISTEP scores, and addressing the state’s drug abuse crisis. 

But what many will be listening most for is the expected reveal of the governor’s position on LGBT rights – a subject he’s declined to address for months.

Jim Grey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobilene/4073489845

Legislators' quest for money for road maintenance may be the death knell for Indiana's automatic tax rebate.

Governor Mitch Daniels pushed through the law in 2011 giving taxpayers money back if the state surplus grew beyond 12.5-percent of spending.

The next year, Daniels' last as governor, the state cleared that threshold, and Hoosiers received $111 per taxpayer in 2013.

Governor Pence's road plan includes $240 million from the surplus, leaving the state an 11.5-percent reserve.

GOP Road Funding Proposal Would Increase Certain Taxes

Jan 11, 2016
Mike Bitzenhofer / https://www.flickr.com/photos/bitzcelt/2516437322

House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) Monday laid out his caucus’ plan for road funding, which includes a pair of tax increases. 

Part of the House GOP's plan is a gas tax increase of four cents per gallon that Bosma says amounts to 25 dollars a year for the average Hoosier driver.

Both Bosma and Ways and Means Chair Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville) emphasize that they remain staunchly anti-tax. But Bosma says the economic growth benefits of their plan demand an exception.

State of Indiana / http://in.gov/

House Republicans revealed more specifics about their road funding proposal as the caucus Thursday unveiled its legislative agenda for the 2016 session, which includes new and increased taxes:

In addition to raising the gas tax to match a rise in inflation – which the House Republican caucus previously revealed would be part of its plan – Speaker Brian Bosma says the proposal would also allow local municipalities with populations of at least 20,000 to implement a wheel tax. 

Currently only counties have that ability. 

Jim Grey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobilene/

Senate Democrats want to provide local communities with a variety of long-term options for funding road maintenance and improvements. 

The bulk of the Senate Democrats’ proposal focuses on long-term solutions -- and involves tax increases.

One provision would allow locals to expand their public safety local option income tax to include road safety improvements. 

Another would decouple the wheel and excise taxes – allowing counties to enact one or the other, instead of both (as current law requires). 

Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

State and local road funding, harsher penalties for drug dealers, and holding schools harmless for a drop in ISTEP scores – those are some of the initiatives Governor Mike Pence says will be part of his legislative agenda for the upcoming session.  

Pence unveiled his $1 billion state road funding plan months ago, a proposal that spends down the state’s budget reserves and incorporates bonding. He signed on last month to a Senate Republican local road funding bill worth more than $400 million.  

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