Mahan: Itís time to pass a long-term road funding plan

Posted by: Samantha Holifield  | Friday, February 3, 2017 11:00 am

Indiana House Republicans have developed a plan to support the state’s transportation infrastructure needs. The plan outlined in House Bill 1002 is long-term, data-driven solution that will keep Indiana connected and on track with our agriculture, manufacturing and logistics-based economy.

The Funding Indiana’s Roads for a Stronger Safer Tomorrow Task Force, which met over the course of several months last year, had the goal of creating recommendations for maintaining Indiana’s roads and bridges. The bipartisan group of senators, representatives and transportation experts researched Indiana’s transportation needs and discussed the best options for moving forward. Their data-driven recommendations were used in the drafting of the House Republican funding plan.

The goal of House Bill 1002 is to fill an average annual funding gap of $1.2 billion over the next 20 years. We must address this shortfall and adequately fund our roads and bridges without leaving future generations with mountains of debt. This legislation proposes a 10-cent increase in gas, diesel and interstate fuel user fees. This increase is necessary due to inflation, as the gas tax was last adjusted in 2003 and the diesel tax in 1988. In addition to lost buying power, fuel tax revenue has been further eroded by drastic improvements in vehicle fuel economy. To be clear, every cent collected from current and future gas taxes will go directly to funding Indiana’s transportation infrastructure.

Our proposal will also ensure that every cent in sales taxes collected at the pump will go toward roads. In addition to the gas tax, Indiana has a seven-percent sales tax on gasoline. Currently, only 2.5 cents of the seven cents collected on every dollar of gas goes toward roads. The bill will shift the remaining 4.5 cents to the Motor Vehicle Highway Fund. It should also be stressed that non-Hoosiers and out-of-state companies will pay a significant portion of our fuel taxes as they use our highways and interstates.

The plan would also implement a $15 annual statewide infrastructure improvement fee on all vehicles registered in Indiana and a $150 fee on all electric vehicles, which do not pay any fuel taxes. The money collected from these fees will go exclusively to the Community Crossings Matching Grant Program, which funds local road projects. The legislation also lowers the program’s local match requirement from 50 percent of the total project cost to 20 percent. This will greatly benefit local communities who are in desperate need of road funding assistance now and in the future.

Altogether, this proposal’s user fees will cost the average Hoosier motorist an additional $5 per month. But right now, the average Hoosier spends $491 in vehicle repairs annually due to poor road surface conditions. Implementing user fees ensures that the amount of funding an individual provides to the roads is proportional to how often they use them. Comparably, Hoosiers pay monthly fees of around $50 or more for services such as internet, cell phones and cable. Being the Crossroads of America is a significant asset, and we must invest in its upkeep and future.

Increasing user fees is not something I take lightly; however, high-quality roads and bridges are necessary for almost every Hoosier and our economy. As I consider this legislation, I want to hear from all people in our community to ensure that everyone’s voices are heard. Please continue to share your thoughts with me by contacting my office at 317-234-9499 or h31@iga.in.gov.

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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.