While driving through my district to meet with constituents, I have acquainted myself with our local roads and the condition they are in. I know many of them are overdue for repair and understand the importance they have in our community. Without drivable roads, students would have difficulty getting to class, police officers would have longer response times, vehicles would require repair more frequently and families could find difficulty connecting.
In fact, the future of our state’s economy hinges on the condition of our transportation infrastructure, and I believe that well-maintained, easily-accessible roads lead to jobs. One of my top goals this session was to advocate for strengthening our vital roads and bridges, which is what employers consider first when relocating or expanding somewhere – they want a reliable, accessible roadway system ensuring that shipments are made on-time as promised.
Recognizing this, Indiana’s lawmakers have joined forces in placing road maintenance and repair at the top of the priority list, and I am pleased that the budget bill, House Bill (HB) 1001, exemplifies this.
The budget bill seeks to sustain and increase funding for roads and bridges using a concept I drafted in a bill earlier this session. The notion of this bill was to transfer state police and Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) funds away from Motor Vehicle Highway Account (MVHA) and place them into the state’s General Fund. With peoples’ cars receiving better gas mileage in addition to higher fuel prices, causing people to drive less, Indiana’s gas tax revenue, which helps to fund the MVHA, has remained constant or fallen. Therefore, using money from the General Fund to help finance our state police and the BMV is more sustainable for them – independent of the flux generated by gas tax revenue.
In addition, with the adoption of this in the budget, $140 million annually would be opened up that can go to road repair and maintenance, and dedicating 20 percent of the state’s gas tax to the MVHA increases road funding by $110 million per year. Together, these proposals would permanently increase road and bridge funding by $250 million annually creating a sustainable revenue stream to maintain our vital infrastructure.
As the Crossroads of America, the budget bill provides a long-term solution to preserving and improving the drivability and accessibility of our state’s roads. Since transportation funding typically transcend partisan lines, these appropriations in the budget received bipartisan backing, and with the budget’s passing through the House on Monday, it will now go to the Senate for further consideration, where I believe the support will be shared.