INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 28, 2016) - This year's legislative session is winding to a close, but how will lawmakers come to terms on some of this year's biggest issues?
In the video above, IndyStar Statehouse reporter Tony Cook talks about the 4 biggest issues that still need to settled before the General Assembly completes its work in mid-March.
At the top of the list, the debate over paying for Indiana's roads continues to bring strong debate as the House and Senate battle over competing infrastructure plans.
House Bill 1001, a transportation funding bill that would funnel millions more into state road projects, was initially going to be paid for with a tax hike on the state’s cigarette and gas sales. But on Thursday that tax hike was taken off the table by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Instead, road projects will be paid for in part by a $100 fee for all electric cars, a $50 fee on Hybrid vehicles, and by pulling from the already existing wheel tax.
“We are going to have the opportunity to have a bipartisan and widely supported infrastructure reinvestment package,” said House Minority Leader, Scott Pelath, D–Michigan City, who applauded the senate’s work in removing what he said were burdensome taxes on middle class Hoosiers.
But not everyone is on board.
“It’s very clear that the senate and Governor program, it’s really a three year program,” said House Speaker Brian Bosma, R–Indianapolis.
Bosma said the senate’s road funding plan, which was supported by Governor Mike Pence is too short term. More of a political, tax hike free remedy to make it past Election Day.
“It’s very clear he only wants a program that funds the next Governor’s term, it doesn’t look beyond that. We’re strongly encouraging the Governor to take a longer term look and really to address not just the next election cycle, but the next generation,” said Bosma.
“I would definitely pay like two cents more or whatever a gallon,” said one Hoosier driver.
Some Hoosiers seemed to agree with Bosma, expressing a willingness to pay more for gas or cigarettes to see a long term solution.
“Travel on our roads, walk in our footprints and then make a decision,” said another driver.
According to the Governor, 2016 was supposed to be the “transportation session” but Speaker Bosma said if an agreement can’t be reached between the Senate and House it is possible a transportation funding bill may not pass this session.