For immediate release:
Nov. 9, 2015
INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath from Michigan City announced today that House Democrats will propose a $2 billion plan to improve state and local roads and bridges over the next four years.
Pelath said the Crossroads Tomorrow plan [get a summary here], to be offered during the 2016 session of the Indiana General Assembly, would direct proceeds from the state’s gasoline sales tax and special fuels sales tax toward state and local infrastructure projects. Combined, the two taxes generate close to $525 million a year.
In announcing the plan, Pelath issued the following statement:
“After a summer that Indiana motorists would like to forget, even the sunniest optimist agrees that the Legislature must do more to improve the state of our state’s roads and bridges.
“Since our Republican colleagues have encouraged us to play an active role in the debate that will be coming in the 2016 legislative session, Indiana House Democrats have decided we must take some bold steps to help Indiana resume its place as the ‘Crossroads of America.’
“The need is apparent to everyone, even those who claim that the state is doing everything in its power to improve infrastructure. Such claims ring hollow when over 1,000 Indiana bridges are deemed ‘structurally deficient’ and one of our state’s major arteries – Interstate 65 – was closed from Lafayette to Lebanon for over a month and more than $70 million in taxpayer dollars was spent on slipshod asphalt that fell apart as soon as a car touched it. The windfall that was Major Moves is all but tapped out. Indeed, if there weren’t such serious problems out there, I seriously doubt the governor would be suggesting a new infrastructure plan as he’s trying to convince people that everything is OK.
“The problem is that the governor’s plan is meek. It doesn’t go far enough, it ignores the needs of local government, and it relies upon bonding, which would put a greater burden on taxpayers for years into the future. You can judge its effectiveness by the tepid response it received from the leadership of his Republican supermajorities, none of whom erupted into paroxysms of joy when the plan announced.
“Our plan is based on a simple concept. Every tax you pay at your gas station should go to fix your street or highway or bridge.
“Right now, when you fill your car with gasoline, you pay a sales tax on your purchase. Those taxes go just about everywhere except toward the road you drive.
“This plan would fairly redirect more than $500 million a year toward highway maintenance and construction. Over the time frame of the governor’s plan, it would provide $2 billion for roads and bridges.
“It would make sure that locals get a piece of the pie, and it would not take an extra dime out of anyone’s pocket.
“Take a moment to consider the lasting value here. Unlike some other public services, roads have lasting, measurable value. Once skilled workers are done with the job, the improved road and bridge becomes a lasting asset to businesses, manufacturers, and people earning a living. They in turn can generate new jobs and revenues for the rest of us…and before you know it, the reserves are back where the accountants don’t get the shakes any more.
“Would this fix every road or bridge in Indiana? No, but it is bolder, fairer, and more understandable to the public than anything suggested so far. It is what is needed in Indiana right now.”