Join Us for Road Funding Day
Along with our road funding partners, Build Indiana Council (BIC) has scheduled Road Funding Day at the Indiana Statehouse on January 25. It is extremely important that we have a large turnout on Road Funding Day. We need BIC members from across the state to attend, and our group needs to include a strong showing of contractors, engineers, aggregate producers, ready-mix suppliers, equipment distributors and businesses that supply each of these sectors. We also encourage our road funding partners, including county, city and town officials, business groups, agricultural interests, chambers, road users and organized labor to take part. Please register here for the event so we can be prepared to take our message to the Statehouse.
Road Funding Proposals Dominate Legislative Agendas
We have five road funding proposals competing for the spotlight at the Indiana Statehouse. Governor Mike Pence and each of the legislative caucuses have outlined different approaches. BIC is encouraged by all of these proposals.
House Republicans will release HB 1001, authored by Roads and Transportation Chairman Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso), on Monday. Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) and Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville), among others, have endorsed the bill.
Chairman Soliday will hear HB 1001 in committee on Wednesday, January 13 at 10:00 a.m. BIC is coordinating testimony with our road funding partners in support of the measure. We’ve learned it will likely:
- Direct Department of Revenue to adjust the motor fuel tax rates retroactively to an appropriate index;
- Shift the sales tax collected on motor fuels from the general fund to the highway accounts;
- Increase the cap on maximum wheel tax rates;
- Allow cities of a certain size to implement a wheel tax if the county has not;
- Direct surplus state revenues to the highway accounts; and
- Establish a grant program for local road and bridge projects.
If your House member serves on the Roads and Transportation Committee, contact him or her before Wednesday, and ask for support of HB 1001.
The House Democrat proposal, for which we don’t yet have a number, would shift the sales tax collected on motor fuels from the general fund to the highway accounts.
SB 67, authored by Tax and Fiscal Policy Chairman Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek), is the Senate Republican proposal for road funding. It addresses the local road funding issue on a short-term basis by making a one-time distribution to local units from state-administered local income tax trust accounts and requiring that 75 percent of the funds be used for local road or aviation projects or deposited in a rainy day fund, with the other 25 percent available for any purpose.
BIC supports Senator Hershman’s proposal while recognizing that it is not long-term, stable or adequate and does not address state highway funding issues. Senator Hershman’s committee is hearing SB 67 on Tuesday, January 12. If your senator is a member of the Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee, call him or her to ask for support of SB 67. You should also indicate that this is one step in the right direction, but we need long-term solutions for both local and state road projects.
SB 338, authored by Senator Tim Lanane (D-Anderson), represents the Senate Democrat proposal. It uses excess state reserves to fund a local road improvement incentive fund for local units that have adopted certain revenue sources. It also increases the maximum wheel tax rates, allows local units to implement a local motor fuels tax of $.01 or $.02 per gallon, and subject to a referendum, allows locals to implement a county road and bridge property tax levy.
SB 333, authored by Transportation Chairman Carlin Yoder (R-Middlebury), sets out Governor Pence’s proposal for road funding. This bill:
- Directs excess state reserves to the state highway fund;
- Speeds up interest distributions from the Next Generation Trust Fund to the state highway fund; and
- Allows the Indiana Finance Authority to issues bonds for transportation projects (although it doesn’t define the method of repaying the bonds).
Senator Yoder’s committee will hear SB 333 on Tuesday, January 12. If your senator is a member of the Homeland Security & Transportation Committee, contact him or her, and ask for support of this bill. You should also emphasize that we need longer-term solutions for both state and local road improvements.
Contact Your Legislators Regularly During this Session
In addition to attending Road Funding Day on January 25, we ask that you stay in regular contact with your local legislators. 2016 is a short session, concluding by mid-March. The pace will be fast, and the situation on all of these bills will be fluid. Let your legislators know the importance of road funding. Ask for updates on the status of various proposals. If you stay in contact with them, they’ll stay on top of the issues. Here’s a link to help you find out who your legislators are.
Please share any information you receive with BIC, so we can monitor the buzz and reconcile it with what’s happening daily at the Statehouse.
We appreciate your support and engagement at the grassroots level for this crucial year for road funding.
If you have any questions about this issue of BIC Matters, call us at (317) 634-4774.