The House approved comprehensive road funding legislation that raises fuel taxes and opens the door to tolling Indiana interstate highways.
House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says the House GOP’s road funding plan follows a simple philosophy: the user pays.
“And those that use the asset more, pay more. Those who use the asset less, pay less,” Bosma says.
Bill author and Transportation Committee chairman Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) wants 10 cent fuel tax increases, a new $15 registration fee for all vehicles and a $150 annual fee for electric vehicles. Additionally, the state’s sales tax on gas would be earmarked entirely for roads.
And Soliday says the governor should be given authority to initiate tolling.
“And through that we should deliver a safe and efficient, well-maintained infrastructure for our kids and our grandchildren with minimum debt being handed to them,” Soliday says.
But House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) says raising the average Hoosier’s taxes while the state continues cutting taxes on businesses isn’t a good plan.
“I think there’s better, less intrusive, more conservative ways to get the same amount of infrastructure investment,” Pelath says.
Rep. Dan Forestal (D-Indianapolis) says the bill has a much harsher impact on low-income Hoosiers.
“I cannot imagine a way that the bill is fair … or how we are possibly going to explain to our constituents that it’s fair that large corporations and the super-wealthy get to keep having their taxes cut by statute and we’re going to raise their taxes at the pump, at the BMV, on electric vehicles … and oh by the way, we’re going to give the governor the ability to toll any road he wants – existing, future – with no oversight at all,” Forestal says.
Though seven Republicans joined Democrats in voting no, the measure now heads to the Senate.