Cherry: Setting session priorities high for Hoosiers

Posted by: Samantha Holifield  | Friday, January 6, 2017 2:49 pm

The 120th Indiana General Assembly started this past week, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of our community and Hoosiers across the state. As this year’s budget session begins, there are a few issues that have my attention.

Throughout session, my main priority will be helping draft Indiana’s next biennial budget, which funds key government services like education, infrastructure and public safety. As the vice chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, I have a direct hand in crafting our state’s budget, making sure it is honestly balanced and promotes fiscal responsibility.

My goal is to keep Indiana living and working within its means – just as Hoosiers like you do every day. We will work to maintain our AAA credit rating with all three rating agencies and be prudent with our state reserves. Our reserves, or surplus, act as a rainy day account for the state, protecting things like school funding from sudden economic downturns.

Another top issue is passing a long-term solution for our transportation infrastructure. Over the next 20 years, the state highway system will need on average more than $1.2 billion in additional funding per year. Local roads and bridges will also require significant new dollars. We need to invest in Indiana’s infrastructure, both state and local, without spending down our reserves or cutting into the state’s general funds, which are already dedicated to key programs and priorities. As an agricultural and manufacturing state, Indiana depends upon its highway system. If it falls in disrepair and we fail to expand it with our growing needs, Indiana will lose its competitive edge in the global economy.

House Republicans recently released our road funding plan. It is comprehensive, data-driven and sustainable over the next two decades. This plan will responsibly increase revenue dedicated exclusively for roads and bridges, ensuring that we don’t leave our children with mountains of debt. The plan would increase road user fees by increasing the gas, diesel and interstate fuel taxes by 10 cents each. The gas tax hasn’t been increased since 2003, while the other fuel taxes were last touched in 1988. This means they have lost tremendous buying power due to inflation. If enacted, the average Hoosier motorist would pay an additional $4 per month at the pump. The plan also introduces a $15 annual fee on all vehicles and a $150 annual fee for electric vehicles registered in Indiana. These new fees will provide ongoing funding for Indiana’s Community Crossings Matching Grant Fund, which helps fund local road projects. This is just a starting point. As we begin hearing testimony and debate on this topic, there could be other revenue sources considered.

Knowing your thoughts on issues facing Indiana helps me better represent you and your family. I can be contacted by email at h53@iga.in.gov or by phone at 317-232-9651 with any questions. You can also stay up-to-date by signing up for my e-newsletter at www.in.gov/h53.

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Rep. Cherry represents House District 53, which

includes portions of Hancock and Madison counties.

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

A high-resolution photo of Cherry can be downloaded by clicking here.