Governor Eric Holcomb says the legislative session that ended Saturday resulted in a budget that will help maintain the state’s strong business and tax climates. In a statement after adjournment, Holcomb said the spending plan "invests in roads and bridges, prepares a 21st Century work force, attacks the drug epidemic, and delivers great government service.”
Holcomb says the budget addresses key provisions of his administration’s "Next Level" agenda, including funding for increased direct flights at Indiana airports, entrepreneurship programs and regional economic development efforts.
From the beginning, House and Senate leaders said the session would focus on infrastructure. Ultimately, lawmakers approved a measure providing nearly $900 million in new annual funding for state roads and bridges by 2024. House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-88) says the plan is expected to generate $1.2 billion in new annual revenue for state and local roads and bridges beginning in 2024. The money will come from increased fuel taxes, registration fee increases and the shift of sales tax on gasoline to road funding.
Lawmakers also passed a bill expanding Indiana’s pre-kindergarten pilot program to 20 counties. The measure outlines plans for $22 million in annual state funding, which is around double what the program receives now. On My Way Pre-K currently serves nearly 2,300 low-income students in Allen, Lake, Marion, Jackson and Vanderburgh counties.
Another measure that gained a lot of attention during the session closes the so-called loophole that allowed Ricker’s convenience stores to sell cold beer. Legislators approved a bill prohibiting restaurants from selling carryout alcohol unless at least 60 percent of its gross retail income from alcoholic beverage sales comes from beverages consumed on the premises, beginning May 14.
In a statement, Ricker’s Chairman Jay Ricker said, "Those of us who believe the free market should offer as many choices as possible for consumers will be watching the General Assembly and will hold its leadership and its members accountable to their pledge of reforming these Depression-era laws," adding, "Make no mistake, if this can happen to Ricker’s, it can happen to any business, any time."