Hoosier drivers could soon pay an increase of $48 a year on gas taxes and potentially experience toll roads in Indiana.
House Republicans outlined a long-term road funding plan Wednesday, which would raise nearly $700 million in additional funds for infrastructure throughout the next two years.
House Bill 1002 calls for increasing gas tax by 10 cents per gallon. The current 18-cents-a-gallon gas tax has not been increased since 2003. House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said the proposed increase would cost drivers about $4 more a month at the pump.
If the bill passes, it would also require a $15 annual fee on all vehicles registered in Indiana. A $150 annual fee on all electric vehicles is also part of the plan to make up for the lack of fuel purchased by those drivers. Combined, the fees will generate approximately $92 billion per year.
“If you drive more, you pay more. If you drive less and use the asset less, you pay less,” Bosma said. “Our overarching goal is to have a sustainable long-term and comprehensive road funding program.”
Another long-term goal of the legislature is widening both I-65 and I-70 to three lanes. In order to pay for the additional lanes, lawmakers are exploring tolling existing state highways and interstates.
But Bosma said the extra fees will pay off.
“Drivers have about $500 in additional expenses to their cars per year because of the roads,” Bosma said.
With fewer potholes and better roads, the amount the average driver spends on repairs will decrease, according to Bosma.
David Fagan, financial secretary of Operating Engineers Local 150, said improving the state’s infrastructure creates job growth. Operating Engineers is a union which represents about 23,000 people working in construction. Fagan said improving roads and bridges will put the union employees to work.
“Indiana is known as the crossroads of America, and to maintain that, we must have the roads and infrastructure to support the economic growth of this state,” Fagan said. “Not only that, but rebuilding infrastructure will help us from today to 20 years down the road.”
Some, however, disagree with the outlined plan.
Justin Stevens, the Indiana state director of Americans for Prosperity, said the legislators behind the plan need to make priorities. He said gas tax revenue should be spent on roads and bridges. Right now some of the funds go to other areas of the budget. Stevens also wants legislators to freeze spending at current levels, then use revenue increases to fill the gap.
“Hoosiers overwhelmingly agree that if lawmakers aren’t using existing money to make roads a priority, they should not be trusted with more of our hard-earned paychecks,” Stevens said in a statement.
Gov.-elect Eric Holcomb will reveal his legislative agenda Thursday but released a statement Wednesday saying he’s encouraged by the conversations he’s been having with state leaders.
“When it comes to road and bridge funding, we all share the same goal – creating a long-term, sustainable plan that strongly positions us for the future,” Holcomb said in the statement, “and I’m confident we’ll have one before we adjourn.”