Letter to the Editor 1-26-17

5

Goal is to fund infrastructure

Editor:

As a member of the House Committee on Roads and Transportation and a user of Indiana’s roads and bridges, I know our state needs a long-term investment plan to maintain and improve our roads. One of my goals this session is to support a sustainable and comprehensive funding solution that will keep Indiana’s infrastructure functioning for years to come.

Data shows that 21 percent of Indiana’s bridges are structurally inadequate and functionally worn out. The condition of our deteriorating roads are resulting in Hoosier motorists spending nearly $500 annually on vehicle repairs. Our local infrastructure is also impacted by the Ohio River that floods and causes damages to many of our roads.

Our area is heavily traveled, since we connect Indianapolis to Ohio and Kentucky. Hoosier roads are the main arteries in our state’s economy, supporting local businesses and communities.

Over the last 12 years, Indiana has led with the right policies, cutting billions of dollars in taxes for Hoosier families and job creators. Indiana now ranks among the top states nationally for its economic climate. Now is the time to invest in Indiana’s infrastructure without spending down critical reserves or cutting into the state’s general fund, which pays for critical services like education and public safety.

Over the next 20 years the state needs more than $1 billion in additional funding per year to support its roads and bridges. Legislators must look to those who use and benefit from the state’s infrastructure to help pay for maintenance and improvements.

House Bill 1002 offers a responsible and data-driven road funding plan. The bill calls for increasing user fees by 10 cents per gallon on gasoline, special fuel and motor carrier surcharge taxes to restore buying power lost to inflation. The gasoline tax has not been increased since 2003 and other fees haven’t been increased since 1988. Under this plan the average Hoosier motorist would only pay about $4 more per month at the pump. Moving forward, these fuel tax rates would automatically be indexed on an annual basis.

Under House Bill 1002, the remaining 4.5 cents of the sales tax on gasoline would be shifted from the state’s general fund to the State Highway Fund.

The bill would also implement a new $15 annual fee on all vehicles and a $150 annual fee on all electric vehicles registered in Indiana. The moneys would provide a stable and sustainable source of funding for Indiana’s Community Crossings Matching Grant Fund, which provides road funding dollars to local governments.

If passed, House Bill 1002 would also require the Indiana Department of Transportation to study tolling and submit a waiver to the federal government to allow tolling on existing interstates.

This proposal is a start, and it will continue to be debated and discussed throughout the next few months. If you have questions or input, please call me at 317-234-3827 or email H67@iga.in.gov.

State Representative Randy Frye