Democrat and Republican leaders at the Statehouse agree – a long-term road funding plan will be the General Assembly’s top priority in 2017.
Beyond agreement on roads as the top priority, legislative leaders agree that their path forward will be largely informed by the recommendation of an ongoing roads task force. The task force – compromised of lawmakers and state and local officials – is working to craft a long-term solution for Indiana’s infrastructure future. That recommendation will likely come next month.
House Speaker Brian Bosma says he’s looking for a plan that’s truly long-term.
“Not something that gets us through the next administration but that gets us through the next generation. We used to say a generation was 20 years. That would be a great goal and, I hope, where we start,” Bosma says.
House Minority Leader Scott Pelath says the task force isn’t the only source he’s looking to in the road funding debate.
“I believe that Governor-elect Holcomb has a big say in this and I’m certainly going to be looking forward to his solutions and recommendations, particularly when it comes to the area of increasing revenue,” Pelath says.
Senate President Pro Tem David Long says there’s general agreement on the state’s needs; how to pay for them is where the debate lies.
“Is it fees? Is it tolls? Is it gas tax? It’s hard to say because we’re not dictators up here,” Long says. “We represent people who are going to have to make a tough decision and they’re not going to want to.”
Bosma says the plan should likely include increased gas taxes. Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane agrees and adds road user fees shouldn’t end there.
“It also means looking at alternative fuel approaches and how do they pay their fair share when it comes time to use our infrastructure,” Lanane says.
Lanane says the gas tax hike shouldn’t be a one-time move, but a recurring increase that keeps pace with inflation.
The legislative session begins in January.