Rep. Ziemke: Outlining Indiana's new roads plan

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Friday, June 10, 2016

The “Crossroads of America” is not only a slogan in Indiana as infrastructure affects every sector of our economy. Roads and bridges help drive economic growth and support Hoosier jobs. Earlier this spring, lawmakers reached a compromise to tackle Indiana’s immediate road funding needs while ensuring that we return next year to craft a comprehensive, long-term plan in the 2017 state budget.

House Enrolled Act 1001 directs more than $800 million to state and local roads over the next two years while giving local governments additional tools to fund their specific needs. Using existing state resources, an additional $328 million will go toward state road and bridge preservation and maintenance over the next two years. This new law also provides $186 million up front to a newly created local road and bridge matching grant account. Known as the Community Crossings program, cities, towns and counties throughout the state can use these grants for road resurfacing and reconstruction, as well as bridge rehabilitation. Local governments will receive funding based on a one-to-one matching grant.

The taxes you already pay at the gas pump will provide ongoing funding to this new matching grant account. Currently, only one cent of the sales tax on gasoline is dedicated to the Motor Vehicle Highway Fund. Our legislation begins the important process of steering all of the sales taxes collected at the pump to road funding, redirecting 1.5 cents to the matching account and codifying the current one cent already going to roads. 

This law also creates the Funding Indiana’s Roads for a Stronger, Safer Tomorrow (FIRSST) task force to recommend long-term funding options before the next legislative session in January. The committee will examine all of the funding mechanisms that can be utilized in the budget, and work to develop a plan that addresses state and local needs for years to come. Our goal is a long-term road funding plan that is responsible, comprehensive and sustainable. The scheduled times and agendas for these meetings can be found at iga.in.gov, where they will be streamed live and archived. 

I also voted in favor of legislation returning nearly $505 million to local governments from the local option income tax reserves held by the state. At least 75 percent of this disbursement must be dedicated toward road and bridge projects. This new law returned more than $1.6 million to Decatur County and $1.9 million to Rush County. In addition, Ripley County received over $1.5 million, Franklin County over $1.3 million and Fayette County over $650,000. Since these funds were raised by local units, it is important that they have the flexibility to decide what road improvements need to be made in their communities.

This past session, legislators took a step in the right direction to improve Indiana’s infrastructure, but there is still much that needs to be done. Please contact me with your thoughts and opinions regarding this issue or any others affecting our community. I can be reached at 317-232-9815 or h55@iga.in.gov. To remain informed and engaged, you can also sign up to receive my email updates at www.in.gov/h55

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State Rep. Cindy Ziemke (R-Batesville) represents all of Fayette County, and portions of Decatur, Franklin, Ripley and Rush counties.

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