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Higher Taxes Vs. Lower Surplus Takes Center Stage In Road Funding Committee

Brian Hefele

Senate lawmakers and House Democrats pushed back Monday against those advocating for the House Republican road funding proposal and its two tax increases. 

Lawmakers heard about an hour of public testimony on road funding from local government officials and road construction industry representatives.  And the people who testified all say none of the plans offered this year provide a permanent solution. 

But those testifying, such as civil engineer John Brand, say the best option is the House Republican plan, which shifts more money to state and local roads by raising gas and cigarette taxes.

“It puts us in a great place and it will be less of an investment and cost down the road if we do it now,” Brand says.

On the other side, senators like Senate fiscal leader Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) are pushing a one-time infusion of state surplus money. They say this will help in the short term and give the state time to develop a long term solution over the summer. 

And Kenley says the four-cent gas tax increase in the House GOP plan isn’t a long term answer.

“If we had to come back next year and add another four cents, then what do we do?” Kenley says. “What do we tell the taxpayer? We said ‘We got it done this last year but we didn’t really get it done.’”

House and Senate lawmakers will hash out a deal behind closed doors before Thursday’s expected end of session. 

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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