Feb 20, 2017, 08:00 AM
In 2015, INFB’s delegates expressed a strong desire for the General Assembly to find a long-term, sustainable road funding solution. That issue has become one of the hottest topics of the 2017 legislative session.
In January, INFB President Randy Kron and Vice President Kendell Culp stood with House Speaker Brian Bosma as he unveiled his caucus’ road funding plan, HB 1002, which mirrors INFB policy set by delegates. 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).
“These provisions and others are necessary to recover the $1.2 billion INDOT estimates the state will need to fund its existing roads and bridges,” said Justin Schneider, INFB’s director of state government relations. “The fuel tax increases and indexing are necessary to recover lost buying power because of inflation. The increased fuel taxes and other fees are all necessary to generate the new money needed to ensure adequate resources.”
Local road funding has been identified as a priority by INFB. When 97 percent of local agencies say they have insufficient funds to maintain their local roads, something has to be done, Schneider explained.
Hoosier farmers rely on local roads and bridges being adequately constructed and well-maintained in order to transport grain, livestock and equipment in an efficient manner. That need fuels the urgency INFB members feel for the state to recover the financial resources necessary to keep up with its infrastructure needs.
“Our members are doing a great job demonstrating that need to their legislators, but they need to keep bringing that message home by giving real-life examples of how sub-par roads impact their lives, businesses and farming operations,” Schneider said. “A strong grassroots presence provides legislators the cover they need to cast a difficult vote in favor of a long-term road funding solution, a policy priority for Farm Bureau.”
As part of the grassroots lobbying effort, Kron is urging Farm Bureau members to support HB 1002 by sharing stories and photos on social media of the worst potholes in their area using #IndianaPotholes. The photos will serve as visual evidence of how serious the need is for road funding reform. The winning #IndianaPotholes photo will be displayed in the House chamber by House Speaker Brian Bosma when the bill comes up for final passage.