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House GOP Road Plan Clears First Legislative Hurdle

Noah Coffey

Republicans in the House Roads and Transportation Committee Wednesday rejected an attempt by Democrats to remove all tax increases from the House GOP road funding plan. 

The Democrats’ amendment – offered by Rep. Dan Forestal (D-Indianapolis) – would have shifted all money from the sales tax on gasoline to road funding; only a small portion of that revenue source currently goes to roads. 

The House Republican road plan does the same thing – only the GOP bill accounts for that shift by raising the cigarette tax by $1 per pack.  Forestal says the Democratic amendment proposed using Indiana’s $2 billion surplus to cover the shift.

“House Democrats’ issue with this is that we have $2 billion in a savings account but we’re trying to raise taxes,” Forestal says. “We think that is a tough sell.”

But Roads Committee Chairman Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso), the House GOP plan’s author, says draining the state’s reserves, especially in what he calls an unstable economy, is unwise.

“I do not want to wind up sacrificing or trading off schools for roads,” Soliday says.

The committee rejected Forestal’s amendment nine to four, along party lines.  The House GOP bill advanced.  

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