NewsPublic Affairs / March 11, 2016

Pence Calls Local Road Funding Package A 'Historic Investment'

Gov. Mike Pence says he enthusiastically supports the local road funding plan approved by lawmakers. - file photo

Gov. Mike Pence says he enthusiastically supports the local road funding plan approved by lawmakers.

file photo

INDIANAPOLIS -- This year’s road funding package does not include the tax increases originally proposed by House Republicans, but it does give counties and cities some ability to raise taxes to pay for their roads. Gov. Mike Pence Friday called the measure a “historic investment” in road funding.

Pence has, in the past, refused to sign legislation that included new local tax options.  And during this session’s road funding debate, he repeatedly said Hoosiers’ wallets should be the last place to look for road funding.  Yet the road funding package allows counties to raise wheel and excise taxes higher than current rates and gives cities of more than 10,000 people the ability to impose their own wheel and excise taxes. 

Still, the governor says, since the bill doesn’t force anyone to raise taxes, he enthusiastically supports it.

“This is a true choice for the local communities, and I trust Indiana communities, cities and counties, to be able to sit down and figure out what their needs are and to operate in a fiscally responsible way,” he said.

Senate GOP Leader David Long steadfastly refused to raise state taxes in this year’s road funding bill, but doesn’t see a contradiction in allowing local leaders to do so.

“We’re going to take a long term view and we’re not willing to just leap in and say, ‘Well, we’re going to raise this or that tax and this’ll be the answer,’” Long said.

Long won’t rule out tax hikes in future sessions as part of a long-term, permanent road funding solution.  Pence says his ongoing bias will be to avoid tax increases.

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