Indiana governor’s proposed toll road hike criticized for secrecy

A proposed fee increase on heavy-duty commercial vehicles that use the Indiana Toll Road was negotiated without legislative involvement and with considerable secrecy, according to some Indiana lawmakers.

The Indiana Toll Road Concession Company would give the state $1 billion over three years in exchange for the 35 percent toll increase under the proposal. Gov. Eric Holcomb said he hopes to spend the funds on roads, broadband, trails and to attract new direct flight routes to the state's airports.

The proposal is a tweak to a 2006 agreement that leased the tollway to a private company for an initial $3.8 billion payment.

Former Democratic Rep. Win Moses, who was involved in the original agreement, told The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne that he's surprised Holcomb proposed the amendment without much public discussion.

"I don't think anyone at the time thought it could be amended without coming back to the people's representatives," Moses said.

Sen. Tim Lanane, the Senate Democratic leader, said legislators might consider requiring legislative vetting for future changes.

"I didn't realize the governor could renegotiate on his own," Lanane said. "The Legislature should be involved out of respect for the separation of powers."

Former Republican Rep. Randy Borror, who carried the original toll road lease bill, said he's confident the governor and advisers believe the move will benefit the state. He said he's sure that "at the end of the day, the appropriate legislators already have or will be asking appropriate questions."

The Indiana Finance Authority will consider approving the new fee hike deal on Thursday.

The Indiana Motor Truck Association has criticized the plan, saying it would hurt the trucking industry in a state that considers itself the "Crossroads of America."

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