On Friday, the gavel will fall ending the current session of the Indiana General Assembly. The top priority for Indiana agriculture this session was funding for repair and maintenance of local roads and bridges. The House and Senate passed different versions of a funding package and a conference committee has been trying to reconcile the two bills for the past two weeks. Justin Schneider, with Indiana Farm Bureau, says Farm Bureau supports the House version, “The House version had $215 million more new money going to local governments for road and bridge repair. In our mind, given all the need, we have more money directed to local governments.”
Both bills contain a hike in the gas tax, something Farm Bureau supported, and Schneider says it is needed, “The reality is that, given the amount of money that is needed just to get us as a state back to where we need to be, the tax increase is necessary.” He added that most people understand this even though they are not happy about having to pay more at the pump.
IFB is urging its members to voice support for the House version of the road funding plan, “INFB members must take action to restore sufficient funding for rural roads and bridges in HB 1002. Otherwise, the increased fuel taxes and registration fees you pay will primarily go to maintaining state roads, not the roads where you work and live.”
The new, 2-year, state budget will also be approved as the session ends. While negations will continue up to the last minute, Schneider is confident many of FB’s priorities, such as funding for the State Fair, the Indiana Grown program, Purdue, and the BOAH, will be included, “I feel confident there are going to be things being addressed that agriculture has supported.” He said there are more requests than funds to meet them,so there is a good chance that not everyone is going to get everything they asked for.
Indiana Farm Bureau and Hoosier Ag Today will present a final review of legislative action next week.