You watch the hometown hockey player accelerate on his skates deking in, moving out, he has the defender beat, he lifts the stick and sends the puck at 100 miles per hour into the net past the goalie. The crowd erupts in cheers, lights flash, a horn sounds. Your favorite player made the game-winning goal for an overtime victory, ensuring your team a spot in the playoffs.
The hockey player huddles with his teammates as the hometown crowd continues to celebrate. The emotional overtime-victory guarantees a next round of play, but it does not ensure a championship.
Metaphorically, this hockey team stands about where the 2016 Indiana General Assembly finished on legislation upgrading Indiana’s infrastructure. While legislators approved more funding for our State’s roads and bridges, they have yet to compete for and win the championship.
The Conexus Indiana Logistics Council (CILC), a statewide group of logistics executives and thought leaders, was pleased with $1 billion allocated over the next three years (2016-2018) for infrastructure. The final legislation agreed to by the Indiana Senate and the Indiana House and signed by Governor Mike Pence provided a short-term fix for our transportation needs.
House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1001 ensures funding over the next three years for infrastructure through a combination of local option income tax (LOIT) reserves, dedicated funding through existing sales taxes on gasoline and funding from the General Fund Reserve.
Specifically, HEA 1001 releases $325 million in local option income tax reserves currently held by the State for local roads in 2016. In 2017, $414 million in funding from the General Fund Reserve will be used for roads whenever the state budget has a surplus of 11.5 percent. From 2017 to 2019, the bill redirects $270 million, or 1.5 cents of the 7 cents of sales tax on gasoline, to the matching account as a source of ongoing funding and codifies the current equivalent of 1 cent already being dedicated to road funding (in effect ensuring that the diversion of 2.5 cents of the 7 cents on gasoline issued for roads). While this $1 billion is a win for transportation funding, it is not a long-term solution.
CILC has worked diligently over the last few years to identify future infrastructure needs. By examining assets and projects on a county by county basis, CILC identified a need for at least an additional $1 billion per year for state and local road maintenance, new infrastructure projects and maintenance of that additional infrastructure. CILC recommends $300 million per year to move to excellent road conditions, up to $900 million for new capacity (as identified by the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Transportation Infrastructure, CILC and the six regional councils) and up to $50 million per year for new capacity maintenance.
Reaching a long-term funding solution during the 2017 Indiana General Assembly is equivalent to a championship win. If Indiana is to maintain and grow its designation as the “Crossroads of America,” we must show up and win the playoffs. Without a 2017 championship win, Indiana will fall behind, making a comeback that much harder.
David Holt is Vice President of Operations and Business Development at Conexus Indiana, the state’s advanced manufacturing and logistics initiative.