Indiana House Democrats have unveiled a plan to pay for infrastructure improvements that they say would generate $900 million per year without raising taxes. Rep. Dan Forestal (D-100), the ranking Democrat on the House Roads and Transportation Committee, says the funding can come through existing resources by eliminating "areas of waste" and corporate tax breaks.
Forestal says the Democrat plan would ban campaign money from influencing public contracts. During an interview with Inside INdiana Business Television, he said "flows into political parties and candidates" from contractors, and those gifts are sometimes rewarded with "fat contracts." He says the proposal also puts a focus on local roads, with a priority on maintenance before building new roads.
The Indiana Department of Transportation has said the state needs to find an average of $1 billion per year over the next 20 years to "take care of what we have, finish what we’ve started and plan for the future." The department’s funding breakdown includes $390 million to get 95 percent of current pavement it maintains to a "fair or better" rating, and $400 million to achieve the same rating for 98 percent of the state’s approximately 5,600 bridges.
The Republican infrastructure funding bill, authored by Representative Ed Soliday (R-4), has already been approved by the House Roads and Transportation Committee. House Bill 1002 includes an immediate 10-cent gas tax increase as well as increases in special fuel and motor carrier surcharge taxes. House Republicans say the the bill could generate about $1.2 billion per year for the next 20 years.
House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-88) released the following statement on the Democrats’ plan:
We are now six weeks into session, and we are finally hearing from the House Democrats on how to address our shared concerns for the future of Indiana’s roads. Their plan would raise taxes, result in cuts to education and jeopardize our state’s AAA credit rating. In the last month alone, we have heard of many jobs and business investments coming to Indiana in direct response to our state’s top-ranked business climate and pro-growth policies. Raising taxes on Hoosier employers is the wrong move and would be a major employment setback for the average worker. The House Republicans have put forth a data-driven and sustainable long-term plan, that reforms the way we pay for our roads and doesn’t harm our state’s fiscal health or business climate.