More Hoosiers will be getting on the bus if voters support an expanded mass transit system.
Courtesy of morguefile.com/Alvimann
It will be up to voters in Central Indiana to decide on the future of mass transit in their communities.
Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill on Wednesday that authorizes leaders in Marion, Madison, Johnson, Hancock, Hamilton and Delaware counties to seek voter permission to raise income taxes to fund expansion of mass transit.
Mark Fisher, vice president for government relations with the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, said it's a matter that should be debated at the local level.
"While this is a huge first step, the real work now begins and that is convincing the citizens that transit is a worthy and necessary investment so much that they are willing to vote to raise their own taxes to fund the expansion of the transit system," he explained.
The law allows local leaders to seek voluntary corporate donations and participation.
And if a county declines to fund transit, a provision in the law allows townships to hold their own voter referendums on the issue.
Fisher said mass transit is an investment in economic development and something attractive to a younger generation of workers.
"This is about providing better access to quality jobs," he stressed, "better health care and educational opportunities so people are able to access those tools that will allow them to better their lives."
While he said he still has reservations about the sustainability of expanded mass transit services, the governor said he signed the bill because of improvements to the final version.
It does not include a new, local corporate tax, which Pence said would reduce competitiveness, and it excludes light rail, which he said would be costly to taxpayers.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released a new Clean Water Rule, which supporters say will better protect rivers and streams in Indiana and across the U.S. from pollution.