Forestal says House GOP’s Valentine’s Day present to Hoosiers is more taxes and tolls

February 14, 2017 Dan Forestal

For immediate release:
Feb. 14, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana House Republicans today made it clear that a comprehensive infrastructure improvement program in our state should be financed by tax and toll increases for most Hoosiers, rather than freezing tax cuts for the elite.

During second reading debate on House Bill 1002, the House GOP rejected a series of proposals from House Democrats that would have provided from $800 to $900 million in new funding for state and local roads each year without raising taxes or creating new tolls. Representatives are expected to consider House Bill 1002 on third reading as early as Thursday (February 16).

The House Democratic plan would have dedicated agency budget reversions toward road funding, ensured that all revenue from the state sales tax paid at the pump and the special fuels sales tax go to state and local roads, allowed the Next Generation Trust Fund to be used for local road loans, and frozen tax rates for corporations and financial institutions, with the funding for future cuts in these areas to be used for roads.

“Our proposal did not raise taxes on anyone,” said State Rep. Dan Forestal (D-Indianapolis), ranking Democrat on the House Roads and Transportation Committee. “The House Republicans responded by just saying no. In turn, they prefer a plan that continues a huge tax cut for the wealthy, but raises taxes for the rest of us when we fill up at the pump or pay for our plates at the local license branch. They have chosen the largest tax increase in state history.”

Along with their no new taxes road plan, House Democrats tried to remove several of the more oppressive aspects of the House GOP plan.

Unfortunately, those efforts were unsuccessful as House Republicans reinforced their support for a 55-percent increase in the state gas tax, providing the governor with unlimited power in tolling new and existing roads, and charging new fees at the local Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) when motorists renew their license plates each year.

“There is some comfort in seeing that the House Republicans have embraced the House Democratic proposal to make sure that every penny you pay at the pump goes to fix your roads,” Forestal said. “Our caucus first proposed it in 2016, and now it is generally accepted wisdom that this should be a component of a road plan. That’s because it’s good common sense.

“It is disappointing that the House Republicans have chosen the easy path of taxing Hoosier motorists as the most prominent part of their plan, rather than focusing in on reducing fraud, waste, and abuse in government and using the savings to fix our roads,” he continued. “It is sad to see that they decided not to do a thing to protect Hoosier workers and they opposed restricting ‘pay to play’ to take political influence out of the road contracting process.

“There still is some way to go before this proposal reaches its final form, and you can rest assured that House Democrats will continue to advocate our belief that we do not need to raise taxes to have a sustainable, viable road improvement plan,” Forestal concluded.