An Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute analysis of the task force report on transportation funding finds lawmakers have several options to generate the additional $1 billion a year needed to upgrade existing roads and bridges in addition to building new.
The Funding Indiana's Roads for a Stronger, Safer Tomorrow Task Force released the results of its six-month investigation into the state's transportation system. It was part of a comprehensive state and local road funding package that cleared the 2016 General Assembly.
Among the major findings, the report notes more than a quarter of the state's roads are in poor condition and about the same number of bridges are too. To remedy the situation, the task force recommends relying on taxes and fees paid by those who use the roads, including the 25 percent of drivers who are from other states.
To generate additional revenue the report suggests increasing the state's gasoline tax and motor carrier surcharge, the two major funding sources since neither has been raised since at least 2003. The report also recommends indexing the tax rates to inflation, which will relieves lawmakers from the political concerns related to raising the rates. For instance, the 18-cents per gallon gasoline tax was last increased in 2003. If it had risen with inflation it would be 23 cents per gallon now and generate more than $230 million a year in additional tax revenue.
The task force adopted the report on a 10-1 vote with Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, casting the dissenting vote. Porter explained he wanted to hear what incoming Gov. Eric Holcomb's plans were before recommending legislative remedies.
Co-chairs, Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, and Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, emphasized the report was only a set of recommendations and they anticipated lawmakers will explore other options during the session that begins Jan. 3, 2017.