[r20] Column: Rep. Dermody: Now is Not the Time to Move Backwards (1/30/2009)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Start Date: 1/30/2009 All Day
End Date: 1/30/2009

When I took office, I swore an oath committing myself to work in the best interests of the people in District 20. Sometimes that means working on a piece of legislation that helps improve the lives of Hoosiers. And sometimes that means calling attention to bad legislation that does the opposite.

House Bill 1656 qualifies as bad legislation.

The bill is a prime is a prime example of doing nothing worthwhile when there is much that could be done. Rather than working on substantive efforts to create a framework for solid, long-term infrastructure growth, this bill guts important roads projects - initiatives that are working toward more economic development for the state.

 The bill would essentially scrap important roads and transportation projects INDOT has planned and use the money to pay for 25 pork-barrel projects, redirecting more than $245 million over the next two years.

The House majority is calling this a roads-and-jobs bill. Apparently, the logic is that taking a job away from one part of the state and moving it to another area of the state creates a new job.

That's hardly logical.

But the real crime is that by redirecting this money, Indiana risks losing as much as $700 million in federal matching grants. In economically tough times, the state needs to be smart with every possible resource, and this bill is not doing that.

Additionally, scrapping the INDOT projects would likely cost Indiana more jobs. In a time when the country is experiencing soaring unemployment rates, HB 1656 is not what we need. The bill disregards common sense.

The Major Moves program is already putting Hoosiers to work. From January 2006 through June 2008, about 86 percent of the almost 30,000 employees of contractors and subcontractors working on state transportation projects filed Indiana tax returns listing Indiana as their residence.

Here in House District 20, the bill would shut down over $23 million dollars worth of projects already scheduled, projects are improving our roads and putting people to work.

Indiana is currently the only state in the Union with a 10-year, fully funded roads plan. Why would we put that in jeopardy?

By voting "No" to HB 1656, I will show my support for fiscal intelligence.  Voting "No" also means keeping almost 30,000 jobs for Indiana workers moving ahead with the INDOT projects we already have planned.