Road funding is hot topic at this year’s legislative session

The 2017 legislative session’s hot topic thus far has been the need for long-term, sustainable road funding solutions. Local road and bridge funding is one of Indiana Farm Bureau’s priority issues, and INFB is emerging as a key player in related policy discussions.

The starting point for the road funding debate is House Bill 1002, the House Republican Caucus road funding plan. HB 1002:

  • Increases charges for users (gas tax, special fuel tax, motor carrier surcharge tax) by 10 cents.
  • Indexes all fuel tax rates annually for inflation and Indiana personal income growth.
  • Transfers the remaining 4.5 cents of the sales tax on gasoline from the General Fund to the State Highway Fund over the course of three fiscal years (FY19-FY21).

Estimates indicate the 10 cent increase would equate to approximately $5 a month or $60 a year. One way to think of this increase is that $60 is less than it would take to replace a tire ruined by a pothole. A little extra money at the pump is an investment in safer roads and less wear and tear on vehicles.

The bill mirrors INFB policy (609.01), which supports the concept of a data-driven solution for long-term road funding and urges the General Assembly to find ways to raise more funding for state and local roads and bridges in addition to increasing fuel taxes. INFB policy also supports any additional tax on fuel being used exclusively for road construction and maintenance.

“The proposal focuses on charges for users, not general tax increases where everyone pays regardless of the benefit they receive,” said Justin Schneider, INFB’s director of state government relations. “INFB policy supports this equitable manner of charging those who use roads and bridges.”

“Improved fuel efficiency has reduced tax revenues from each vehicle driven because of less frequent gas purchases,” said Schneider. “No longer can the state rely mainly on fuel tax revenue.”

HB 1002 also includes increases in registration fees, which will be directed to the Community Crossings Matching Grant Fund, funding local roads. The bill proposes a $15 annual increase on all vehicles registered in Indiana and a $150 annual increase on all electric vehicles registered in Indiana.

Because some of the opponents of HB 1002 are positioning the bill as tax increase, many legislators are hearing opposition. It is all the more important, then, that INFB members find their voice, help shift the narrative and express support for HB 1002 to their legislators, INFB’s Statehouse lobbyists say.

INFB is joined by many partners in support for this legislation, but members need to let their legislators know that local road and bridge funding is important. Several counties have scheduled Statehouse visits already, but those who have not are encouraged to do so quickly. Members showing up and meeting with their legislators face-to-face is an important part of INFB’s grassroots arsenal. The success of the organization’s policy implementation is directly correlated to members finding their voice in government.

More information about INFB’s advocacy efforts can be found here.