Rep. Dermody said he opposes HB 1656 because it could cost Indiana $700 million in federal grants and would redirect over $245 million over the next two years from the Indiana Department of Transportation. That could force INDOT to reduce its work force in a time when Indiana is seeing soaring unemployment rates.
"We need to keep Hoosiers at work, especially locally," said Rep. Dermody. "It's completely illogical to stop projects that are providing both jobs and improved roads given the current economic climate. People of northwest Indiana can't afford to see this bill pass."
District 20 currently is slated for projects totaling $23 million, but if House Bill 1656 passes, any projects projected to start after July 1, 2009, will be cancelled before they begin.
Around the state, projects have employed roughly 25,000 Hoosiers since 2006.
"This bill takes away work that Hoosiers need right now," Rep. Dermody said. "Money for development needs to stay in District 20. We need economic activity that this infrastructure construction provides, and this bill will put things on hold for years."
The Roads and Transportation Committee passed HB 1656 by a 7-5 vote. It is currently eligible for second-reading amendments.