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Road Funding Deal Raises Gas Taxes, Earmarks Gasoline Sales Taxes for Infrastructure

Toll study included in plan; vote won't come till Friday or Saturday

Legislators have a tentative deal on road funding and could vote on it Friday.

As expected, the package imposes new vehicle fees, and raises gas taxes 10 cents, with additional increases of up to a penny a year to keep up with inflation. And it phases in House Republicans' demand to earmark gasoline sales taxes for roads. 

About a third of gasoline sales taxes already pay for roads. The rest supports the overall state budget, just like sales taxes on anything else. Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) says the shift will be phased in over six years -- but with a circuit-breaker if that puts too much strain on the budget. The bill would allow the governor to ask the five-member State Budget Committee to put the transfer on hold if the money's needed to fully fund other state programs.

The budget committee comprises two legislators from each party and the governor's budget director.

House Speaker Brian Bosma calls the package "fantastic." He says it assures the state of adequate funding to build and maintain roads, and will bolster the image the state has worked to cultivate as an attractive place for businesses.

But Bosma and Kenley say legislators might yet reopen the issue in six or seven years. Kenley says the bill should meet legislators' billion-dollar-a-year goal by the fourth year. But he says as fuel efficiency improves, the state will have to confront the question of tolls. For now, the bill orders INDOT to draft plans for how tolls might be implemented.

Bosma says House Republicans have signed off on the bill, but says Democrats still need to be briefed and the final language printed for review. That makes Friday the earliest a vote could take place. Legislators hope to adjourn for the year Friday or Saturday.

(Photo: oneinchpunch/Thinkstock)

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