Indiana lawmakers advanced a bill that could derail years of work to improve the Indianapolis bus system. The amendment was added to an unrelated transportation bill last week.
It concerns a provision in a 2014 bill that enabled IndyGo to pursue a referendum. It stipulated the organization raise a 10 percent match of the local income tax, which is nearly $6 million.
Republican Sen. Michael Young says IndyGo is responsible for that amount.
"If the law says you have to raise 10 percent, does some organization just get to decide we’re not going to do it?" says Young.
IndyGo President Inez Evans says the organization has just received it’s nonprofit foundation status and has started raising money. She says the measure undermines the wishes of Indianapolis residents who passed a 2016 referendum to expand mass transit.
"The promise that they asked us to do, we are fulfilling that promise," says Evans. "These are the things that the voters have said they want. More frequent and reliable service and those are the things we are building on for this community."
IndyGo plans to increase ridership, through route changes and additional rapid transit lines.
Indy Hub President Blake Johnson says a thriving mass transit system is critical to attracting young people to the city.
"They want to know that there are reliable and effective transit options, they want to know that if they chose to they could have a car free lifestyle in the city they are moving to," says Johnson.
About $180 million in federal funding could also be in jeopardy, if IndyGo is unable to move forward with plans.