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Roads legislation unfair to northwest Indiana

February 20, 2016

In response to your editorial favoring “user fees” to fund Indiana roads [Pence off-course with road-funding plan, Feb. 1], as long as we’re at it, let’s toll I-465.

Your readers probably have the same reaction to that suggestion as northwest Indiana residents did to the news that the muddled mess that is the road-funding measure, House Bill 1001, actually contains a provision where the state will petition the feds for permission to place toll booths on I-94. That interstate runs solely through northwest Indiana.

It’s the only region where generations of residents have paid tolls on the Indiana Toll Road and yet witnessed the bulk of Toll Road lease proceeds go elsewhere in the state. So northwest Indiana residents are being asked to carry a special burden yet again and once again be denied their fair share of road funding.

That’s why the LaPorte County Commission I represent voted unanimously in bipartisan fashion to oppose HB 1001. The bill’s mix of gas tax increases and new local option taxes is toxic and then adds insult to injury by urging tolls on interstates like I-65 and I-94.

Our county commission hopes the Senate starts over and takes the best of other proposals, like Rep. Scott Pelath’s suggestion that more sales tax proceeds on gasoline actually be dedicated to roads. The same with Sen. Brandt Hershman’s proposal for the state to timely return local income tax receipts to communities, nearly $420 million of which was improperly hoarded by the state and kept from cities and counties.

Rep. Brian Bosma suggests it’s time for an “adult conversation” on road funding. Our commissioners agree. Why not impose a moratorium on planned reductions in the individual income tax, corporate income tax and the bank tax that gut state revenues and will cost the state $2.27 billion over the next eight years? Why not seek to collect the over $400 million annually that the non-partisan Multi-State Tax Commission says is lost to state coffers by tax shelters and dodges used by Fortune 500 corporations doing business in Indiana?

What the LaPorte County Commission said in its unanimous vote is that there are plenty of other ways to come up with a much-needed long-term infrastructure plan than raising gas taxes, forcing communities to adopt new local option taxes, or putting job-killing toll booths on our interstates.

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Shaw Friedman
LaPorte County attorney

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