INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Lawmakers on Tuesday criticized Gov. Eric Holcomb’s unilateral move to spend
$1 billion in proceeds from a renegotiated Indiana Toll Road lease without
governor announced the windfall in September, which will lead to a major
increase in toll fees for drivers of large commercial vehicles.
argues that the deal - and the spending - is well within their legal
authority and will go toward road construction and some of Holcomb’s pet
from both parties voiced concern over his handling of the matter during a
Tuesday meeting of the State Budget Committee, which met ahead of January’s
legislative session, during which a new two-year state budget will be
State Sen. Ryan
Mishler, a Bremen Republican, said lawmakers are exploring legislation that
would prevent a governor from doing the same in the future.
“There has to be
some legislative oversight,” said Mishler, who leads the Senate
Appropriations committee. “We’ll discuss with our colleagues in the House
... how we want to handle that billion dollars.”
office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Like much of the
country, Indiana has struggled to keep up with maintenance on its aging
infrastructure. Last year, Republicans who dominate the Statehouse - and
have cut taxes on the wealthy in recent years - increased the fuel tax by 10
cents per gallon to help pay for improvements to the state’s crumbling
Holcomb latest move
will put even more money into infrastructure, which he said is needed to
keep the state economically competitive.
were not balking so much at how he is spending the money. Rather, they say
they were not kept in the loop while a deal was crafted to make Holcomb the
sole arbiter deciding how the astronomical sum would be spent. It’s
lawmakers’ responsibility, after all, to make appropriations and write the
“We knew nothing.
It was just like: ‘Here, thou shalt take this and be glad,’” said Democratic
Indianapolis Rep. Greg Porter, who is the ranking minority member on the
House’s Ways and Means committee.
plan, $600 million would go toward speeding up the completion of Interstate
69; $190 million would go to projects on U.S. Routes 20, 30 and 31; and $20
million would go toward luring new direct flight routes to the state. He
also wants to spend $90 million to improve or build hiking and biking
trails, and $100 million to increase rural broadband access.