A $1 billion infrastructure bill is headed to Governor Mike Pence. The two-year measure is stripped down significantly from earlier versions and includes the full, $42 million in funding for a third region in the Regional Cities Initiative. It does not raise taxes, but will use a combination of state reserves, tax re-allocations, Major Moves dollars and proceeds from last year’s tax amnesty program. Senator Luke Kenley (R-20), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, says what he calls the "Indiana FIRSST" plan goes a long way toward satisfying local and state needs.
The acronym stands for Funding Indiana’s Roads For a Stronger, Safer Tomorrow. Kenley says the gas and cigarette tax increases were dropped, because they represent "diminishing returns." Senator Karen Tallian (D-4) voted yes on the bill, but says the bill is not long-term enough.
The bill also includes funding for the so-called 13th check for state pension recipients and $10 million for the Next Generation Hoosier Education Scholarship trust, which is designed to help the state attract and retain top students interested in teaching.
A separate but related bill focused on local transportation infrastructure funding that was authored by Senator Brandt Hershman (R-7) has also been approved by the General Assembly. It calls for $430 million for local governments.
Kenley explains why proposed cigarette and gas tax hikes were peeled back.
Senator Karen Tallian (D-4), who is also on the Senate Appropriations Committee, voted for the bill, but said it’s not a long-term solution.