Debate about the best long term approach to Indiana transportation infrastructure funding continues in Indianapolis. Thanks to many rural voices making the trip to the statehouse, HB 1002 is making its way through the process. It was heard by the House Ways and Means Committee last week.
“We testified in Ways and Means in support of the bill of course,” said Katrina Hall, Director of Public Policy at Indiana Farm Bureau, “because our members over the course of the last few years have recognized the need for more funding, in particular for local roads, and there is data that sows that county roads in particular are among the worst in our state.”
The bill did move out of Ways and Means, but it does not have unanimous support. Around the state some are opposed to the increased gas and diesel taxes the bill calls for. But Hall explains Farm Bureau supports those user fees to improve the Indiana roads and bridges picture.
“Gas and diesel taxes and other fuel taxes are basically a measurement of your use of the road. It’s still money that folks have to pay but our members have resoundingly said, and our policy has been for the last three or four years that we wanted additional funding available through those mechanisms for the repair and maintenance of roads and bridges.”
Last week Democrats unveiled their own plan, and one element of that plan was included in an amendment passed by the Republican-led House committee.
Hall said it is “to accelerate the use of the sales tax that’s collected at the pump to be more immediately available for roads. So, that one amendment put another $300 million into the road funding mix sooner, which is good news for us.”
Nearly 200 INFB members from fifty counties have lobbied their elected officials on this and other issues, and Hall says they’ll need to stay engaged as the infrastructure bill moves to the Senate. Being engaged includes statehouse visits, 3rd house events in local communities, and the road funding day in Indianapolis scheduled for February 21st. The bill is eligible for second reading amendments and a floor vote, possibly in the next week.
Hear more from Katrina Hall:Katrina Hall HB1002 update-Full