Cherry: Session priorities accomplished

Posted by: Samantha Holifield  | Friday, March 18, 2016 9:09 am

Session priorities accomplished

At the start of the 2016 legislative session, House Republicans set goals that would benefit Hoosiers. Our top priority focused on funding Indiana’s infrastructure needs. Over the past few months, leaders of the General Assembly worked together to find an infrastructure plan that would address our immediate road funding needs. I am confident that the plan we passed will take care of our roads now, while laying the framework for lawmakers to address long-term road funding next year.    

House Enrolled Act 1001 directs $186 million upfront to a newly created local road and bridge matching grant. This legislation also redirects 1.5 cents of the 7 cents of sales tax on gasoline to the matching account as a source of ongoing funding and codifies the current equivalent of 1 cent already being dedicated to road funding. Now, 2.5 cents of every 7 cents collected through the sales tax on a gallon of gasoline will be dedicated toward roads and bridges. About $328 million would go toward state road and bridge preservation and maintenance over the next two years. A main component of this bill creates a task force, which will conduct a thorough study this summer on state and local road funding needs and options. Its findings will inform our efforts in next year’s budget session.

Additionally, Senate Enrolled Act 67 would immediately infuse up to $430 million to local governments for road and bridge improvements across the state. Under this proposal, about $505 million in local option income tax reserves currently held by the state will be returned to local units with $330 million dedicated to roads.

House Republicans supported Hoosier agriculture and related businesses this session. The agriculture industry contributes $44.1 billion to Indiana’s economy and support 190,000 jobs. Senate Enrolled Act 308 would provide immediate farmland property tax relief to Hoosier farmers by freezing the farmland assessment base rate at $2,050 per acre until 2017. Legislators supported farmers in this period of depressed commodity prices. Despite lagging farm incomes, farmland taxes since 2007 have increased 63 percent. It is vital that we continue to support these hardworking Hoosiers who positively impact our economy. I will continue working for farmers in our district and across the state. 

Now that session has adjourned, I will shift my focus to interim study committees. Over the next few months, legislators will take a hard look at a variety of issues to determine the best course of action for our state. Feel free to share your thoughts with me at (317) 232-9651 or h53@iga.in.gov.

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Rep. Cherry represents portions of Hancock and Madison counties.

He serves as Vice Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.