Senate OKs $200 mil in addtl road spending 

  • Courtesy of Tim Thumb via Flickr Creative Commons

Gov. Mike Pence would get $200 million - half the amount he's seeking - for new highway projects under legislation the Indiana Senate approved Thursday.

House Bill 1002 now moves back to the House, where lawmakers had voted to free up $400 million in cash for roads, including $25 million for local projects.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said senators decided to be "somewhat cautious" in releasing the money that had originally been set aside for future highway funding.

Under the bill, the legislature will have first shot next year at deciding whether to spend the remaining $200 million on roads or use the cash elsewhere. Kenley has said that's important because Indiana's tax receipts are behind projections made just a couple months ago.

Still, he said, Pence and the Indiana Department of Transportation have a number of projects along Interstate 65, the planned Illiana Expressway and other areas that are ready to go.

The bill passed unanimously, although some Democrats said they were disappointed the Senate stripped funding for local roads out of the bill.

"We're in a crisis in terms of the local roads and particularly in terms of the weather we've had," said Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson. "I hope we can do something."

The House can accept the Senate changes to the bill or send the legislation to a study committee where lawmakers can look for a compromise on the issue.

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