Mahan: Advancing Hoosier priorities

Posted by: Samantha Holifield  | Friday, April 28, 2017 2:36 pm

At the Statehouse, we recently concluded our legislative business for 2017 and adjourned Sine Die. We passed an honestly balanced budget and created a long-term, sustainable road funding plan. Overall, it was an extremely successful session.

Our top priority this year was creating and passing the state’s biennial budget. Hoosiers can be proud of the $32 billion budget that passed, which promotes fiscal responsibility and maintains our state’s healthy reserves and AAA credit rating. The General Assembly increased funding for K-12 education by $345 million over the next two years and provided an additional $10 million each year to expand the state’s pre-K pilot program. In order to keep our state law enforcement officer salaries competitive with other states, we increased their base pay. Even with these funding increases, we were still able to fund all of our key priorities.

Along with our budget, we passed a comprehensive road funding plan that will address our current transportation infrastructure needs and provide funds for future projects. If we had not acted this year, Indiana’s roads and bridges would face on average a $1.2 billion annual funding shortfall over the next 20 years. Starting in July, state road funding will see a $357 million increase, while local road funding will receive an additional $260 million. By 2024, it will generate an additional $1.2 billion per year for state and local roads. Overall, this is the largest investment in transportation infrastructure in Indiana history.

To generate these needed funds, the user fee on the gasoline, special fuel and motor carrier surcharge will each be increased by 10 cents, none of which have been adjusted for inflation in more than a decade. While these user fees already go entirely toward roads, not all of the revenue from the sales tax on gas does. We’re fixing that. By 2024, every cent in state tax, both gas tax and sales tax, paid at the pump will exclusively fund state and local roads. We also created annual registration fees on hybrids and electric vehicles because they pay so little, if anything, in fuel taxes. All other vehicles registered in Indiana will have a $15 annual statewide infrastructure improvement fee. Raising user fees is never an easy decision to make, but given the facts, this is the best option to provide immediate and ongoing funding for our roads. We could have taxed all Hoosiers, including non-drivers, and we could have gone into debt by borrowing heavily. Neither of those options were fair or responsible. The conservative user-fee approach was the best option.

What was especially important about this road funding bill from our community’s perspective was the increase in ongoing financial assistance for particularly smaller, rural communities. By 2024, local governments will be receiving an additional $340 million per year. Last year we provided local governments with revenue tools, asset management plans and created the Community Crossings Matching Grant. This already popular program provides 50/50 matching grants to fund local road projects. In 2016, for example, our local communities received over $3 million in grants. As part of this year’s plan, we revised the program to triple local government spending on roads and bridges in smaller counties and towns.

Now that session has wrapped up, I’m now back home in the district, getting ready to start a busy summer, but my job as your state representative does not end when session is over. If there is anything I can do to help you or your family, please let me know. You can contact me at 317-234-9499 or h31@iga.in.gov. You can also sign up for my e-newsletter for regular updates at www.in.gov/h31.

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State Rep. Kevin Mahan (R-Hartford City) represents

portions of Blackford, Delaware, Grant and Wells counties.

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