House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, is interested in exploring using tolling as a new source of funding for Indiana’s highways.
“The experts agree that the future, particularly on our major highways in the Crossroads of America, is to move into the tolling business,” Bosma said Thursday. “So we are just taking a look. That is a very responsible thing to do and it’s happening all across the country. People are looking at this for future road funding options.”
House Bill 1001, the Republican plan to provide funding for road repairs, would require a feasibility study on tolling interstates.
Bosma was quick to point out that this bill does not support nor oppose entering the tolling business. It simply states that tolling is something the legislature should further explore as a possibility.
“I’m in favor of the study of it,” Bosma said. “It really does look beyond the next election and looks to the next generation, and that was our goal with this program.”
Bosma did not take a hard stance on whether he personally supports or opposes tolling. Instead, he said he wants to work to address the state’s road needs with a sustainable solution. He also does not want the short session and upcoming elections to overshadow that goal among his colleagues.
“My long-time goal and long-time philosophy is to do what’s right and let the politics shake out for itself,” Bosma said. “It’s easy to have a short-term, next-election viewpoint. It’s my hope that we can set that aside and look a decade down the line and do what we think is right today.”
In addition to requiring a study on toll roads, HB 1001 would raise some taxes, including the gas tax and cigarette tax. When asked about Gov. Mike Pence’s opposition to raising taxes, Bosma said he hopes Indiana’s economic growth would provide support.
“Transportation needs for the Crossroads of America needs to trump a no-tax philosophy,” Bosma said. “We are so responsible here. We made out state budget lean, very lean. Twenty tax cuts in 20 years. This is an investment for growth.”
Bosma said numerous manufacturers have come forward expressing that road improvements are critical to their futures. He hopes this helps encourage more support from lawmakers.
“As we line folks up who are in the private sector that are set on economic development, [the legislators] are starting to get it,” said Bosma. “This is important for Hoosiers. It’s important to make this investment, not for the election, but for the next generation.”