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Lawmakers urged to spend more on road funding

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The last time you went out driving, you likely hit a pothole or two or dodged a few of them. There’s not enough money to fix all of them, but state government is being asked to spend more.

The current version of the state budget calls for a $400 million increase in road funding. Meanwhile, the people who build and maintain streets and highways believe there is a billion dollar funding gap just to fill potholes and maintain Indiana roads.

They were at the Statehouse Tuesday to urge lawmakers to look for new ways come up with road money, possibly even a mileage tax to replace the gasoline tax. They also came to point out that none of the proposed spending is earmarked for local or county governments who are now battling potholes on a daily basis. More money to reconstruct crumbling state roads and build new ones is also on the wish list.

“Filling the potholes doesn’t get it anymore,” said Bill Schmidt of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns. “You need to have good, smooth streets because it makes a big difference in how people react to the conditions of your community.”

There is also a push for a user fee to be placed on electric vehicles.

“If you’re driving in an electric car, you don’t pay a road use tax,” said Dennis Faulkenberg of the U.S. 31 Coalition, “and we think that regardless of the type of fuel you use, you ought to pay to use our roads in Indiana.”

State lawmakers are always reluctant to create new taxes and fees no matter what the need may be. They are being told that more road funding would also lead to more jobs and economic development, but it’s still a tough sell.