Finding a solution to Indiana’s transportation and infrastructure needs has been an ongoing discussion. The need for improvements is both a safety and a money issue.
“Pavement is crumbling, rural bridge weight limits are in question and there are growing inadequacies of overpass height and road width, especially for county roads,” said Katrina Hall, INFB public policy director. “Farmers rely on these roads and bridges to transport their grain, livestock and equipment to and from their barns, fields and local grain elevators.”
This March, the General Assembly provided an influx of cash to shore up some of those needs, but as the 2016 session concluded, leadership in both houses made a commitment to return to the issue in 2017 to craft long-term, sustainable road funding solutions that will need to include “revenue enhancements,” also known as tax or user fee increases.
This coming session, House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tempore David Long are expected to weigh multiple proposals, including the recommendations of the Funding Indiana’s Roads for a Stronger Safer Tomorrow Task Force, as well as the road funding plan that House Republicans offered last session.
As auto manufacturers have improved the miles-per-gallon capabilities of vehicles, gas tax revenue has decreased because drivers are filling their tanks less frequently. To make up for the unintended consequences of automobile innovations resulting from Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards set by the EPA, state lawmakers will likely consider several possible solutions, including indexing the gas tax in order to keep pace with inflation.
“Everything is on the table,” said Justin Schneider, INFB’s director of state government relations. “INFB supports a wide variety of options, so long as they are data-driven.”
INFB state policy (Section 609.01) indicates support for the concept of a data-driven solution for long-term road funding. It urges the General Assembly to find ways to raise more funding for state and local roads and bridges in addition to raising fuel taxes and shifting current sales tax on fuel for road construction and maintenance.
The policy book also specifies that any additional user tax (e.g. fuel, tire, registration, wheel, etc.) should be used exclusively for road construction and maintenance.