INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (September 15, 2015) - After major headaches and traffic delays for hours on I-65 this summer, state lawmakers met Tuesday to determine the future of funding for transportation in Indiana.
The fight has gotten so heated over transportation funding, a TV ad, paid for by a labor union, has already aired, blasting Governor Mike Pence for what they say is his lack of spending on Indiana roads.
The organization “Better Roads Ahead” blames the I-65 bridge failure on the Governor, even going as far as saying deaths along the interstate detour, were his fault.
Even after the bridge reopened earlier this month, democratic lawmakers say the I-65 bridge failure is just one piece of what has become Indiana’s crumbling infrastructure.
“Throughout the entire state, there are insufficient bridges. Throughout the state I think more than 1,900 when you look at them from the most recent data we have, that are rated poor or worse and so what occurs to me is, someone’s taking their eye off the ball here,” said State Senate Minority Leader, Tim Lanane (D – Anderson).
“It’s the typical union way of thinking, going after somebody for political gain. Not really addressing the actual issue and dealing with the situation,” said State Senator Carlin Yoder (R – Middlebury).
But at the year’s first Interim Roads and Transportation Committee hearing Tuesday, Chairman, State Senator Carlin Yoder dismissed the ad and said the state has its priorities in order.
Yoder said transportation funding will be a top priority in the 2016 legislative session.
When asked though, about the ad’s insistence that the state’s record surplus should be used to pay for infrastructure improvements, Yoder said, “We still need to maintain our reserves for the rainy day when we need them. Some people will say this is a rainy day, I would argue, let’s find ways to fund this without diving into that pool for a really bad day.”
In a statement the Communications Director for Mike Pence for Indiana wrote:
“The ad is both false and disingenuous. While John Gregg’s union allies are spending $100,000 attacking the governor, Mike Pence has signed into law $600 million in new transportation spending since 2013. The same Democrats who spent our state into oblivion ten years ago want to do so again. Hoosiers see through the Democrats’ politics of desperation and deceit."
Payment for the hundreds of projects that lawmakers are promising to tackle this session is still up in the air. The state’s Interim Roads and Transportation Committee will meet with INDOT officials in October to determine a funding strategy.