Pelath: Still time for GOP to come to its senses on road plan

February 16, 2017 Scott Pelath

For immediate release:
Feb. 16, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath from Michigan City today issued the following statement after the House approved legislation (House Bill 1002) that implements a Republican plan to finance infrastructure improvements through increases in taxes and tolls:

“While people should take heart at the fact that the Indiana General Assembly appears destined to pass an infrastructure improvement plan this session, today’s vote shows we have a long way to go before we have an equitable, fair plan.

“Far too many House Republicans remain convinced that the way to solve this problem is by raising taxes at the pump and your local license branch. Perhaps that point of view might garner them some free cocktails at their local country club, but I believe they would get a different point of view if they expressed the same opinion at the local diner. They might end up wearing drinks rather than sharing them.

“In its current form, House Bill 1002 raises taxes on practically every Hoosier, except for the very elite. You will pay more every time you fill up your car with gas. You will pay more when you write that check to renew your license plates. The more cars you have, the more you will pay.

“And let’s not forget that this bill provides unlimited power to our governor to toll any road in the state.

“I will remind you that House Democrats advanced a plan that would have provided upwards of $800 to $900 million a year toward state and local roads without increasing a tax or raising a toll. House Republicans voted it down.

“Normally, these turns of events should create a permanent shudder among Hoosiers, but there is still time for some good to come of all this.

“Consider that House Bill 1002 contains the House Democratic proposal to dedicate every penny in sales taxes that you pay at the pump toward the roads you drive. Such an idea was inconceivable when House Democrats proposed it in 2016. Now it is considered a just and reasonable response.

“If the Republicans can come to their senses on that idea, then they certainly can realize that we can improve our roads and bridges without raising a tax on Hoosiers.

“As this bill moves over to the Indiana Senate, I am hopeful that negotiations and careful deliberations about the long-term impact of this legislation will continue. There is a path to follow. All it takes is the kind of courage that recognizes you do not have to inflict the largest tax increase in state history on the people who can least afford it.”