DAN LEONARD FOR STATE REP.  HOUSE DISTRICT 50The 2017 session of the General Assembly in Indiana is quickly approaching.   This session is usually described as a “long session”.   The Bi-annual budget for the state is crafted during a long session.  In 2015 (the last budget cycle) the State of Indiana passed a $31 billion bi-annual budget (that’s $31,000,000,000.00). Legislator from around the State of Indiana will meet in Indianapolis in early January and be in session through the end of April.  During that time they wade through legislation being proposed.  Each member of the House of Representatives is limited to 15 bills  (15 X 100 Representatives = 1500 bills).  The Senate does not limit their members on bills.   So you can get a feel for the number of topics legislators face.  Typically there are somewhere around 1800 bills filled during a long session.  I wanted to share with you a one of the major issues that will be debated during the session.

An issue of major importance is road funding.  Not just for construction, but for repair and maintenance of roads and bridges on state highways as well as sending help to maintain local roads.

1. Should we use more of the sales tax on gasoline?
Presently only 1 cent of the 7 cents of sales tax on gasoline goes to fund road maintenance.

2. Do we increase the fuel tax on gasoline?
The fuel tax on gasoline has not been raised in over 15 years.

3. Should the fuel tax on diesel fuel be increased?
Diesel fuel tax has not been increased in 8 years.

4. Should commercial diesel fuel users pay sales tax on diesel?
Commercial truckers are exempt from sales tax on diesel in Indiana.

5. Should electric cars pay a fee to maintain roads?
Most money for road funding comes through taxes on fuel.

6. Should the distribution formula be adjusted to send more $ to locals?
Pick-up trucks and SUV’s plated as trucks are not included in the MVH formula.

7. Should we use more “Public/Private Partnerships” for road funding?
This could include but not be limited to “express lanes” being tolled on interstate highways and more leasing of state highways to private companies.

These are just a few of the likely issues (and I’m sure there will be more) that will be debated concerning Road Funding during the up coming session.

Northern Indiana has been very fortunate in the resent past to have major upgrades to it’s state highways.   Upgrades to I-69, upgrades to state road 14 on the west side of Ft. Wayne, 24 on the east side of Ft. Wayne to the Stateline.  469 around the south, east and north sides of Ft. Wayne and let’s not forget the 4 lane section of Co. Road 900 in Huntington Co and Allen county connecting state road 24 with I-69, a $30 million project (that’s $30,000,000.00).  These highway improvements have lead to a more prosperous northeast Indiana.

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Dan Leonard

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