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Legislature served smorgasbord of taxes, tolls, fees as road funding options

December 20, 2016

An increase in state gas taxes, tolling and a vehicle fee are all possibilities that Hoosier drivers could face as state lawmakers try to figure out how to pay for road improvements expected to cost as much as $1.2 billion annually.

The General Assembly's road funding task force met Monday to announce its wide array of recommendations for the upcoming legislative session.

“We think this issue is of absolute paramount importance to the state of Indiana going forward in the next 20 years,” Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said.

The task force outlined a series of options for generating more money for Indiana roads over the next 20 years. The money made from potentially raising the gas tax or additional toll roads would be used to maintain current roads and bridges and to implement new projects.

Currently, Hoosiers pay about $19 a month in gas taxes, according to Kenley. Following the recommended jump in gas taxes, they would pay $32 a month.

While an increase in the gas tax would add between $350 million and $400 million to the funds, that’s not enough money to solve the problem.

“I think the amount of money we need to raise is $900 million a year to $1.2 billion a year moving forward to get it done,” Kenley, who serves as a co-chair on the committee, said.

Other options for the General Assembly to consider range from increasing the tire disposal fee to adding a “per vehicle fee” on the six million vehicles registered in the Hoosier state.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said the top priority for the upcoming session is to pass a comprehensive and sustainable road funding plan.

“Today’s recommendations help lay the groundwork as we work toward this goal and consider more sustainable revenue sources to build our infrastructure for the next generation,” Bosma said in a statement.

Here are the options recommended for consideration by the task force:

— Immediately increase the gasoline tax to recover some or all of the purchasing power lost since the gasoline tax was last increased in 2003.

— Immediately increase the special fuel tax to recover some or all of the purchasing power lost since the special fuel tax was last increased in 1988.

— Immediately increase the motor carrier surcharge tax to recover some or all of the purchasing power lost since the motor carrier surcharge tax was last increased in 1988.

— Index the rates for the gasoline tax, special fuel tax, and motor carrier surcharge tax on an annual basis to ensure funding stability.

— Implement road usage fees on alternative fuel vehicles, electric vehicles, and other vehicles which pay little or no fuel tax in support of their use of the roads.

— Explore options to implement equitable and modern tolling systems on state-controlled highways and interstates to fund major highway and interstate improvement projects.

— Implement a per vehicle fee on all vehicles registered in Indiana.

— Increase the tire disposal fee.

— Shift additional revenue generated from the use tax on gasoline from the state general fund to dedicated transportation funds.

— Improve over-weight truck enforcement through electronic monitoring of truck weight and permits.

— Increase fees that are subject to the International Registration Plan.

— Consider a limited restoration of the Indiana Finance Authority’s ability to provide funding through smart debt financing—including highway revenue bonds, grant anticipation revenue vehicle bonds (GARVEE bonds), and transportation infrastructure and innovation act (TIFIA) bonds, provided that the expected life of the project to be financed exceeds the length of the debt repayment.

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Recent Articles by Adrianna Pitrelli, The Statehouse File

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