The Indiana House has approved a road-funding plan that would raise the gasoline tax by 10 cents and increase vehicle registration fees to fund improvements to the state's infrastructure.
The plan has been a tricky sell for lawmakers in a state more accustomed to passing tax cuts than increases. Supporters argue funding is much needed and the plan responsibly addresses that need by asking those who use the roads most to pay for improvements.
Democrats have criticized the tax increase, saying it would hurt average motorists. They also contend the bill would give the governor unchecked power to impose tolls on roads.
The measure passed 61-36, with seven Republicans joining the Democratic caucus in voting no. An earlier amendment directs the entirety of the state's sales tax on gas toward roads.
The seven GOP members who voted against the bill were Bruce Borders, Ed Clere, Timothy Wesco, Christopher Judy, Bob Morris, Curt Nisly and Heath VanNatter.
The bill would raise the gas tax from 18 cents to 28 cents per gallon while charging an extra $15 for vehicle registration for most vehicles. Registrations for electric vehicles would be an additional $150.
Indiana House Democratic leader Scott Pelath of Michigan City said he lawmakers would be better off considering a Democratic road-funding plan that avoids tax hikes.
“While people should take heart at the fact that the Indiana General Assembly appears destined to pass an infrastructure improvement plan this session, today’s vote shows we have a long way to go before we have an equitable, fair plan," he said.