State Rep. Matt Lehman (R-Berne) today joined fellow state leaders as the biennial budget and a plan investing in Indiana’s infrastructure were signed into law.
“The 2017 legislative session was driven by the need to develop a comprehensive, sustainable plan to fund our roads and bridges,” Lehman said. “With today’s signing, we can move forward on implementing the largest investment in state and local infrastructure in Indiana’s history, while also continuing to operate under a balanced budget.”
Lehman said House Enrolled Act 1002 will provide immediate and substantial funding increases for state and local roads and bridges. Beginning in July of this year, the legislation will provide an additional $357 million in state and $260 million in local road funding. These additional investments will continue to increase year-over-year, reaching $1.2 billion in 2024, with nearly $900 million expected in new state funding and an additional $340 million in new local road funding.
The plan increases user fees by 10 cents per gallon on gasoline, special fuel and motor carrier surcharge taxes to restore buying power lost to inflation. These user fees would be indexed annually for the next seven years but wouldn’t increase more than 1 cent per year. The gasoline tax has not been increased since 2003, and the other user fees haven’t been increased since 1988. Lehman said this ensures that those who use and benefit from the roads help pay for them.
The remaining 4.5 cents of the sales tax on gasoline would be shifted over five years starting in 2020 from the state’s general fund to the State Highway Fund, which is dedicated exclusively to roads and bridges. By 2024, every cent in state tax paid at the gas pump will be dedicated solely toward road and bridge funding.
The measure calls for a new, $15 annual fee on all vehicles, a $50 annual fee for hybrids and $150 annual fee on 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. Lehman said important changes were also made to expand grant eligibility to help smaller cities, towns and counties fund local infrastructure.
Under the proposal, the Indiana Department of Transportation would study tolling and submit a waiver to the federal government that would allow Indiana’s executive branch and the State Budget Committee to approve potential tolling projects.
Lehman said the approved $32 billion state budget increases funding for K-12 schools by $345 million over the biennium, provides modest funding increases for higher education and increases state funding for Indiana’s high-quality, pre-K pilot program by $10 million, which helps low-income, at-risk students.
It also includes an increase in Indiana State Police salaries and a state income tax deduction for military pensions, and funding to address the state’s opioid epidemic.
The budget provides $1.82 million for veteran service organizations to improve assistance for veterans seeking benefits, $1 million to help homeless veterans and establishes a hyperbaric treatment pilot program to assist veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.
House Enrolled Act 1001 allocates $10 million to the governor’s office for substance abuse prevention, treatment and enforcement, increases funding for the Department of Child Services by $200 million over two years to help meet the significant increase in casework demands, and provides a $3 million-per-year increase for Adult Protective Services.
Investments are also made for innovation and workforce development, including efforts to advance bioscience research in Indiana and programs that deliver high-value training to Hoosier workers like the WorkINdiana program.
Rep. Matt Lehman (R-Berne) represents House District 79, which includes all of Adams County and portions of Allen and Wells counties.
ROADS PLAN, BUDGET BILL NOW LAW: State Rep. Matt Lehman joins fellow state leaders today at the Statehouse as Indiana’s next biennial budget and a plan investing in infrastructure are signed into law. Seated, from left to right, is State Sen. Mike Crider (R-Greenfield), Senate Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne), Gov. Eric Holcomb, House Speaker Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis) and State Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso). Standing, second row from left to right, is State Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek), State Sen. Blake Doriot (R-Syracuse), Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, State Rep. Todd Huston (R-Fishers), Lehman (R-Berne), State Sen. Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville) and State Rep. Bob Cherry (R-Greenfield).