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Mass transit bill headed to conference committee

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The Indiana House passed legislation to authorize new taxes for an expanded bus system but the bill is headed to a conference committee where lawmakers will try to find a compromise on the issue.

Senate Bill 176 lets officials in Delaware, Hamilton, Hancock, Johnson, Madison and Marion counties act to raise taxes – but only if voters say yes in a referendum.

That revenue could be used for a regional system with more buses and more routes.

Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, said a better mass-transit system is necessary to keep the Indianapolis metro area vibrant.

“It’s a good bill that’s for the next generation,” Soliday said.

But Rep. Mike Speedy, R-Indianapolis, said he opposes the bill because he believes it puts taxpayers at risk. He said too many big government projects run over budget and leave the public on the hook to pay more.

“This could end up costing taxpayers and rate payers millions of dollars,” he said.

The bill now returns to the Senate, which has already passed a different version of the legislation. The Senate plan included a corporate income tax to help fund the bus system as well as a ban on using the income tax revenue to pay for a light rail system.

The House took out both provisions. But the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, said senators have already said they “can’t live” without the ban on light rail.

Lawmakers have until March 14 to find a compromise on the legislation or it will die for the year.

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  • cluster
    This is going to get bombed at the polls. No way it passes Hamilton or Johnson counties. Donut counties do not want or need this. Just hope that once it dies, it truly dies. BTW, how many of you supporters actually live outside of Marion County?
  • Wonderful news
    Congrats to all transit supporters, this is a wonderful step forward. Also IndyGo made great improvements in 2013 - an improved bus fleet, improved accommodations at bus stops, and improved routes and frequency. Ridership numbers are increasing and last year topped 10 million. Congrats to the IndyGo team - I'm an IndyGo user and appreciate all your hard work. Still a long ways to go but we'll get there!
  • indy go
    People are not using indy go because it sucks. Drop off spots are in puddles of mud without any waiting stations or any indication when the next bus is coming. Ask people who lived in real cities such as DC, Chicago, San Fran, NYC, Seattle if they use public transportation. I am tired of these small town people who live in middle of nowhere telling someone who lived in world class cities all his life how public transportation is useless. If it's useless Washington DC would be the first one to rip the metro out.
  • Look at IndyGo
    Go to the IndyGo website and look at the Financial Statements. Ridership revenue is a very small portion of its resources, meaning the people aren't even using the public transportation we have in place now. Most of IndyGo's survival depends upon taxes, which tells you exactly how this mass transit plan is going to be paid for. It is only government that uses other peoples' money to double down on losing propositions.
  • Think about it
    Yes you're right...Nobody would ride an affordable, reliable transportation system that reduces fuel and maintenance costs on their cars...not too mention time, however you want to quantify that.
  • Other things first
    Without totally derailing the mass transit conversation, I think we need to spend some money to take care of what we already have first. Throughout downtown and the county the sidewalks are trashed, the roads are much worse (pothole city USA, severe drainage problems, faded/invisible lane paint), and there are hardly any police anywhere. Invest the money in these things, then we can talk about some $10 billion train nobody will ride.
    • Great Work
      This was a huge step for central Indiana, but the push isn't over! Keep up the work towards a smarter future!
    • Indy is a Banana Republic
      Why don't they take up a disband the corrupt UNIGOV state we live in. I live in southern Marion county and I am tired of a lack of public services out here in the suburbs. No police, horrible streets and sidewalks, a Mayor that only thinks about doing things which involve giving out Corporate Welfare, putting taxpayers in massive Debt. Hats off to Speedy.... Not sure What Republicans really are anymore. Indy will end up like some of the California Municipalities.... Debt on the airport, Debt on Lucas Oil, debt on a stupid Water Co to ratepayors, guaranteeing private development deals....

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    1. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

    2. Boston.com has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2010/07/interactions_banks_63_million.html The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

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    4. Please go back re-read your economics text book and the fine print on the February 2014 CBO report. A minimum wage increase has never resulted in a net job loss...

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