BIC Matters – Oct. 2015

There was a lot of media and political attention throughout the summer regarding funding for Indiana roads and bridges. And, there were two additional developments this week.

On Tuesday, Governor Mike Pence announced his proposal to invest an additional $1 billion in state road and bridge improvements over four years. The Governor’s proposal would use $241 million from the state’s projected reserves, $450 million in general fund budget appropriations, $50 million in accelerated distribution of interest from the Next Generation Trust Fund, $26 million from refinancing existing bonds and $240 million in new borrowing. Here are the documents describing the Governor’s plan.

On Thursday, the Interim Study Committee on Roads and Transportation met to review the long-awaited legislatively mandated study on alternative highway funding mechanisms INDOT commissioned through Cambridge Systematics. Chairman Carlin Yoder (R-Middlebury) and Vice-Chairman Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) also scheduled presentations by INDOT Commissioner Brandye Hendrickson, Tippecanoe County Commissioner Tom Murtaugh, Jim Stark representing the Indiana Finance Authority and Dr. Darcy Bullock and Dr. John Haddock representing Purdue’s Joint Transportation Research Program and Local Technical Assistance Program. Here are the reports from the meeting:

BIC analysis: There is no doubt that the increased media and political focus on Indiana road conditions and funding deficiencies is favorable as we look toward the 2016 legislative session. The Governor’s highway funding proposal tees up the discussion for legislative consideration. While we appreciate the Governor’s attention to the matter, we are troubled that it falls short of the $1 billion annual need ($500 million for state and $500 million for locals) that various studies and our coalition partners have long agreed upon, and it provides no funding for local roads and bridges. Also, the concept of bonding with no apparent source of new revenue raises questions about how the state will pay back the bonds in the future.

Build Indiana Council will continue to analyze the various proposals and data and will stress to our elected leaders the need to enact long-term, dedicated, stable and adequate funding for our state and local system of highways, roads, streets and bridges. Please be sure to contact your legislators with the same concern.