Supporters of the Hoosier State Passenger Rail Line experienced some nervy moments in the final day of session after funding for the line was seemingly zeroed out of the budget.
Previous budget versions included six million dollars specifically for the Hoosier State Line…but the version released late Tuesday night didn’t seem to include it anymore. Senate budget architect Luke Kenley says, instead, he put the six million into a bigger pot of money controlled by the Department of Transportation.
“Because the problem is, they have to reach some kind of agreement with the federal people to figure out how to run this program and since we don’t know the answer to that today, we’re not sure if we want to budget for it or not,” says Kenley.
The final version of the budget has language authorizing INDOT to fund the rail line from the bigger pot if the Hoosier State Line goes forward – which West Lafayette Republican Randy Truitt says is a good way to go.
“INDOT has been great; they’ve shown their commitment to the program," says Truitt. "They’ve jumped in, they’ve kept things alive.”
To further help the line, the budget authorizes a new tax amnesty program. The first $84-million collected through the program goes to the governor’s Regional Cities Initiative; the next six million goes to INDOT to reimburse the agency for funding the Hoosier State Line.