Legislation to boost local road funding

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Finding additional funding for Indiana's roads and infrastructure has been a popular topic of discussion around the state recently.

As state lawmakers, we recognize the value of quality roads and infrastructure not only to everyday Hoosiers and their families, but to businesses and visitors. That's why, since 2013, the Indiana General Assembly has provided over $1.2 billion in funding for road infrastructure, including $100 million each year for local roads and bridges.

As we begin considering new ways to fund roads and infrastructure in the future, it's important to find mechanisms that provide more dollars to cities, towns and counties without burdening the state, local governments and Hoosier families.

Senate Bill 67, which I co-authored, would boost local road funding by $430 million without tapping into Indiana's reserves, raising taxes or creating debt.

Currently, each local government has an account that the state uses to distribute local income taxes. Because the economy has grown following the Great Recession, and because of the way the state distributes this money to the local governments, extra funds have accumulated in many of these accounts.

Under state law, Indiana is only allowed to distribute these extra funds once they exceed 50 percent of the local governments' annual income-tax receipts. Even then, the state is only permitted by law to distribute the money that is in excess of the 50-percent level.

SB 67 would make a one-time distribution of much of these balances to local units of government immediately, with the stipulation that at least 75 percent of the money is used for roads or placed in a rainy-day fund to be used for road funding at a later time. Local units would be able to spend the remaining 25 percent of the distributions at their discretion.

If passed, the bill would have a major impact not only on communities around the state, but locally as well. The figures below, listed by county, reflect the total funding that city, town and county governments would receive in and around Senate District 39:

Clay County: $1,601,753

Daviess County: $3,059,911

Greene County: $1,384,347

Knox County: $2,532,868

Martin County: $151,244

Owen County: $595,941

Sullivan County: $351,049

In total, this bill would provide more than $9.5 million for the roads and bridges in our communities. To see a full list of the distributions, including the breakdown for local governments, visit www.IndianaSenateRepublicans.com/info-on-local-road-funding.

Roads and infrastructure will remain a top priority for me in the 2016 and 2017 legislative sessions. I believe this plan is a good start and would provide much-needed funding for our communities to complete current projects on time and improve our roads and bridges.

As always, you can contact my office directly with your questions and concerns by email at Senator.Bassler@iga.in.gov or by phone at 800-382-9467.

I look forward to hearing your feedback.