House Republican priorities on track as session reaches halfway point

Posted by: Erin Reece  | Monday, February 27, 2017 5:00 pm

STATEHOUSE (Feb. 27, 2017) - Indiana House Republican lawmakers successfully advanced their top legislative priorities as session crossed the halfway point on Monday.

House Speaker Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis) said his team made significant progress on their agenda including passing an honestly balanced budget and a long-term road funding plan. House Republicans also passed legislation supporting students and teachers, improving Indiana's workforce, increasing public safety and attacking the state's drug epidemic.

"At the midpoint of session, we have made incredible progress by passing a responsible, two-year state budget, and a comprehensive road funding plan that would bolster Indiana's reputation as the Crossroads of America," Bosma said. "Our team worked hard to advance these priorities as well as many others, and we look forward to working with our Senate colleagues and Gov. Holcomb in the weeks ahead to keep the momentum going."

The halfway point of session marks a milestone for legislation as House bills move to the Senate for consideration and Senate bills crossover to the House. By law, legislators must conclude the session by April 29.

Honestly Balanced Budget (HB1001)

House lawmakers passed a structurally balanced budget, which maintains healthy reserves and supports Indiana's AAA credit rating. Bosma said the $31 billion biennial budget proposal includes substantially increasing the base funding for each K-12 student and modestly increasing the state's investment in higher education. Legislators also doubled state funding for Indiana's high-quality pre-K pilot program, which helps low-income children.

Bosma said the budget plan includes pay increases for Indiana State Police and increases in state income tax exemptions for military pensions and survivor's benefits. House lawmakers also included investments in innovation and workforce development, and efforts to address the state's opioid and heroin epidemic.

Long-Term Road Funding Plan (HB1002)

Over the next 20 years, Indiana needs on average an additional $1.2 billion annually to maintain and improve state roads and bridges. House Bill 1002 would increase 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 the other fees haven't been increased since 1988.

The bill would also shift the remaining 4.5 cents of the sales tax on gasoline immediately from the state's general fund to the State Highway Fund dedicated solely to roads and bridges. This means all taxes paid at the pump would be dedicated to funding road and bridge improvements for the first time in Indiana's history.

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 money would provide a sustainable source of funding for Indiana's Community Crossings Matching Grant Fund, which provides road funding to local governments. Altogether, the average Hoosier motorist would pay about $5 more per month under this proposal.

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

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House District 88 includes the northeast corner of Marion County and portions of Hancock and Hamilton counties.