LISTEN: Mega Transportation Bill Advances to Senate

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A House-approved road and bridge funding plan is now headed to the full Senate. HB 1002, which was approved Tuesday morning by the Senate Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy, carries funding sources such as an increased gasoline tax and opens the door for the Indiana Department of Transportation to seek a waiver from the Federal Highway Administration to toll interstate highways. Network Indiana/WIBC Political Reporter Eric Berman believes the legislation in its final form will turn out close to this bill.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Berman says "there's virtually no dissent" from leaders at the Statehouse on the need for boosting gas taxes. "Probably they're going up 10 cents a gallon and then indexed to inflation," Berman said. "That's in the House Bill, that's in the Senate Bill, Governor Holcomb has expressed his support for gas tax as part of the final package." He said even Democrats agree gas tax needs to be part of the equation, but some have suggested it be less of an increase.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Luke Kenley (R-20) is a co-sponsor of HB 1002 and says the proposed legislation centers on users bearing the brunt of the costs. “Under this approach, those who use the roads the most will pay the most, but also get the most benefit," said Kenley. "Gas taxes alone are not enough to fund our roads." He adds there has not been a gas tax increase in the state since 2003 and the special fuel tax, which could also be raised under HB 1002, has been steady since 1988. "Indiana needs a modernized, sustainable plan that will fund our roads for future generations," he said.

The bill will hit the Senate floor next week. Berman says an amendment from the committee inserted Tuesday calls for a $5 tax on each tire purchased in the state.

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