House Republicans announce legislative agenda, long-term road funding plan

Posted by: Erin Reece  | Wednesday, January 4, 2017 10:00 am

STATEHOUSE (Jan. 4, 2017) – House Speaker Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis) and Indiana House Republicans outlined their legislative agenda today and released their long-term road funding plan.

The House Republican agenda, “Investing In Our Future,” focuses on passing a balanced state budget and funding Indiana’s infrastructure needs while supporting education, job creation, workforce development, addiction treatment and public safety.

“We set a bold agenda this session and we are committed to putting Hoosiers first by passing an honestly balanced budget and responsibly investing in Indiana’s future,” Bosma said. “Our budget will be built on sound fiscal policies that protect Indiana’s AAA credit rating, top-rated business climate and healthy reserves. We are also focused on passing a comprehensive and sustainable road funding plan that takes into account the needs of the next generation while ensuring our infrastructure continues to fuel our state’s economic engine.”

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

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

Today, State Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso), who chairs the House Committee on Roads and Transportation, filed House Bill 1002, which 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 the other fees haven’t been increased since 1988. Under this plan, Soliday said 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. Soliday said 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.

According to the State Budget Agency, over half of the biennial budget is dedicated to Indiana’s education system. However, less than 60 percent of public school expenditures make it to the classroom. At 41.4 percent, Indiana has the lowest percentage in the nation of total K-12 staff working as classroom teachers, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. House Republicans pledge to strengthen their commitment to students and educators by directing more dollars to the classroom, improving testing and responsibly expanding the state’s high quality, pre-K pilot program. 

To support Indiana’s growing economy, low unemployment rate and top-rated business climate, Bosma said lawmakers will work to attract, retain and improve the state’s workforce. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development estimates that the state will need to fill 1 million jobs by 2022. House Republicans will support policies that help better align education and training with current and future employer needs.

In the face of Indiana’s growing opioid and heroin epidemic, House Republicans will focus on efforts to expand substance abuse and treatment options. Members also pledged to continue to support the state’s criminal code reforms and work to keep felons who continuously violate the terms of their community supervision off the streets. Bosma said he is also calling for an increase in Indiana State Police salaries.

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