INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A bill to fix Indiana’s roads took a big step forward, while Democrats continue to express concerns over its impact.
This legislative session, tackling Indiana’s roads problem has been a priority. The Indiana Department of Transportation said it needs a billion dollars a year to fix roads and bridges.
On Thursday, the money got a step closer as the House passed a road funding bill, 61 to 36. “This bill is culmination of six years of study,” House Speaker Brian Bosma said. “Not something that came up on a napkin two or three weeks ago.”
The bill hikes the price at the pump 10 cents a gallon, and creates a $15 annual car and $150 annual electric vehicle fee.
“$63 a year,” House Speaker Bosma said. “$5 dollars a month.”
Democrats don’t like those numbers. As legislators walked into the chamber, they displayed signs of their proposal. The plan would raise money by cutting waste, dipping in the reserve and freezing wealthy tax breaks.
“We have a plan,” State Rep. Gregory Porter (D – Indianapolis) said. “We had a plan. We want to work with you in regards to this for all Hoosiers.”
Seeing their plan fail, House Minority Leader Scott Pelath presented hypothetical figures. A truck owner, who drives 20,000 miles, he said would spend $133 in extra gas fees.
If toll and vehicle fees were added, for a minivan owner who drives 22,000 miles, he said they would pay more than $200 more. “When you start to break it down, and you look at what real Hoosiers are doing out there, it’s not that cheap,” House Minority Leader Pelath said.
House Speaker Bosma disagrees with those numbers. “I wished the myth busters were here today because they’d have a hay day,” House Speaker Bosma said.
He said Democrat myths include paying with money not there, long-term plan by using the surplus, and tolls will cost Hoosiers $100 a year.
Although seven GOP members voted against it, House Speaker Bosma believes it’s a step towards fixing roads.
“When I asked people, would you pay $5 a month for better roads,” Bosma said. “If it all goes to roads, I have yet to have somebody say, no.”
The Senate will work on the proposal next month. On Wednesday, senate Republicans called the plan to use all gas sales tax on roads problematic. On Thursday, House Speaker Bosma said he hopes the two sides can work towards something else before the bill heads to Governor Eric Holcomb’s desk.