INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Key Republican leaders said Wednesday that Indiana lawmakers must increase
taxes if they’re going to move forward on plans to improve the state’s
Indiana’s roads and
bridges have been rated in the bottom third of U.S. states, officials say.
Lawmakers have batted around ideas, hired consultants and studied the issue
for several years.
But many in the
Legislature’s Republican majority have been squeamish when it comes to
acting because the consistent takeaway from those efforts has been that
taxes or fees need to be raised to pay for the improvements.
Now even those who
have resisted the idea are signaling that they are ready to move forward
with an increase during the session that begins in January.
Sen. Luke Kenley, the Senate’s chief budget writer, says lawmakers need to
“face up to the fact” that more money is needed. Last session he opposed a
“I think we all
recognize that we don’t have enough revenue to even sustain our maintenance
program,” said Kenley who suggested a gasoline tax increase or adding tolls
on the state’s highways.
GOP House Speaker
Brian Bosma says he’s looking to the gas, excise and cigarette taxes. Other
Republicans, including Senate leader David Long, have concurred with the
Last session, Bosma
and House Republicans put forward a roads funding plan that would have
raised Indiana’s cigarette tax by $1 a pack and tacked 4 cents onto the
state’s 18 cents-a-gallon gas tax, which hasn’t been increased since 2002.
But GOP Senate leaders and Republican Gov. Mike Pence opposed the plan and
didn’t want to vote on a tax increase in an election year.
Gov. Eric Holcomb has said he wants to develop an infrastructure plan that
could cover the next 20 years. But he has yet to weigh in on specifics and
hasn’t indicated his stance on a tax increase.
have said Indiana needs to spend a $1 billion or more a year on roads.
the tax increase last session. On Wednesday, House Democratic Minority
leader Scott Pelath wouldn’t say whether he would support it this time.
“One thing we don’t
know yet is what the governor-elect thinks,” Pelath said. “I’m still
searching from the new governor-elect.”
Holcomb said he won’t discuss his plans before January.