INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett has outlined his legislative priorities for the 2023 session.

At the top of the list is Indianapolis infrastructure with a focus on how to get more funding from the state.

It’s a tall task to get Indy roads to a more acceptable level, and Hogsett believes this would be more easily accomplished with a more equitable funding formula from the state.

”Our long-term infrastructure needs are probably in the neighborhood of a billion dollars,” said Hogsett.

Right now, the state’s road funding formula favors more rural communities with less people driving on roads. The distribution formula is based on center-line miles, meaning road lanes are only counted by the two lanes in the center. This makes a six-lane road in Indianapolis equal to a two-lane road in other rural parts of the state.

Hogsett wants to see that change to make sure Indianapolis gets a fair shake of the money collected by the state.

”We’re not asking that anyone else be penalized, we’re just asking for greater equity for the City of Indianapolis,” Hogsett said.

The mayor is also hoping to see changes to the Community Crossings grant program. It’s a state-funded program that allows communities to apply for a grant and be matched up to a million dollars.

Hogsett said Indy taxpayers contribute far more than they get back.

”The City of Indianapolis and Marion County, I think, contribute $28 million to the program from our residents and taxpayers, and yet we’re constrained to applying for and receiving one million dollars back,” Hogsett said. “So $28 million goes in, one million comes back. I don’t think anybody would find that to be equitable.”

State Sen. Fady Qaddoura, who represents the north side of Indy, is putting together legislation with several of these changes. His solution is to add more money to programs like Community Crossings and allow larger cities to match more money for projects.

”My solution does not take money away from other communities, my solution puts more money in programs under the funding formula that will send more money to locals across the state in every zip code, in every district and in every county,” Qaddoura said.

He also wants to change the way the funding formula works for state funds to city roads.

”I am changing the funding formula just to pay communities based on the vehicles miles traveled, or what we call VMT, instead of the center-lane mile,” Qaddoura said.

He said this will bring more equity to the funding.

We reached out to Republican lawmakers to get their thoughts but were not able to speak with any in time for this story.

Qaddoura said he’s spoken with Republican lawmakers representing Indianapolis and is hopeful they can work together.

”To support the communities they represent, to support the roads we all drive on and to be sure that Indianapolis gets the fair share,” Qaddoura said.

We also reached out to Hogsett’s opponents in the upcoming mayoral election: Democrat Rep. Robin Shackelford, Republican Pastor James Jackson and Democrat Gregory Merriweather. As of the writing of this story, only Shackelford had sent a statement to be included in this story.

“I support the Mayor’s legislative requests and, as an Indianapolis State Representative, look forward to working with my colleagues in the General Assembly to move the needle on these initiatives, which so many of us have long been fighting for,” said Shackelford. “Last budget session, I was part of a small legislative working group created by the Speaker to address infrastructure funding alternatives for Indianapolis, but sadly the group never agreed on a solution. I will continue to voice our concerns on the state funding inequities, alongside Mayor Hogsett, and collaborate with my colleagues to hopefully come to a consensus.” 

You can find Hogsett’s full statement on his legislative goals for 2023 below:

“As the Indiana General Assembly begins another important budget session, we intend to advocate for the interests of Indianapolis residents and collaborate with legislators to improve quality of life in our state’s economic engine,” said Mayor Hogsett. “Whether in strengthening our local infrastructure, protecting and increasing the stock of affordable housing, or reducing gun violence, it’s clear that government works best when it works together. I look forward to continued conversations with our partners at the other end of Market Street on these critical issues.”

Infrastructure

Since taking office, Mayor Hogsett and the City of Indianapolis have worked with legislative partners to lay out the funding needs for the City, the inequities in current state funding, and options for state-local partnership in updating aging infrastructure. The City of Indianapolis has also collaborated with the Central Indiana Regional Development Authority and the Central Indiana Chief Elected Officials organization, which support additional infrastructure dollars for the Central Indiana region so that funding is distributed in a manner that is more reflective of the traffic needs of the economic engine of our state.

The City will encourage exploration of many options to address these concerns, including:

  • Adjusting the funding formula around the full population of the Consolidated City of Indianapolis, rather than by the fire service territory;
  • Re-structuring the criteria for Community Crossings grant program to better scale with the infrastructure needs of more populous counties;
  • Refinancing older bonds, allowing for debt service to be invested back into local road funding.

Housing

At a time when homeowners and tenants in Indianapolis, and across the state, are facing the consequences of a housing shortage and inflation, the City of Indianapolis will request that the General Assembly provide additional support on housing. This should include legislation to prevent displacement of longtime homeowners living in neighborhoods undergoing rapid changes in assessed value (and therefore property taxes). The City will also seek new resources to address the findings of the state Housing Task Force, as well as additional funding to further advance anti-displacement initiatives and programs enacted by the City locally.

The City of Indianapolis remains committed to tenants’ rights and requests a restoration of the ability to enforce local regulations around tenant-landlord relationships, including the Tenant Bill of Rights. Issues in recent years around landlord-utility nonpayment required partnership between the City and the Indiana Attorney General’s Office to resolve. Additional protections for renters, such as rent withholding and utility escrows, should also be considered. As the City of Indianapolis transforms IndyRent into a more permanent rental assistance program, new state funding would help continue the effort and create more stable living conditions for thousands of residents.

Specific to housing efforts on homelessness, the City requests that the General Assembly provide statewide funding to support the findings of the state Low-Barrier Shelter Task Force. This includes resources for master leasing of apartment units, supportive services, and shelter operations. Such funding would allow the City of Indianapolis to continue pursuing its Housing First strategy to reduce homelessness.

Public Safety

Building off the success of the Indiana Crime Guns Task Force, which began as the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Crime Gun Intelligence Center, the City of Indianapolis is requesting state action to address the proliferation of 3D-printed converters. Also known as “glock-switches,” these converters transform a semi-automatic weapon into a fully automatic weapon. These weapons are becoming increasingly common in Indianapolis and across the country, creating a need for additional legislation to clarify their classification and reduce their threat to public safety. The City also will support additional measures to reduce access to firearms for young people, those suffering from mental health challenges, and convicted felons.

As part of the City’s continued focus on criminal justice reform, an expanded Division of Re-Entry has connected with thousands of individuals leaving incarceration at the Community Justice Campus, providing connections to rides, food, employment, mental health resources, and more. Additional resources from the state would help continue and expand that work, empowering those who were formerly incarcerated and reducing the rate of recidivism.

Public Health

As Indiana emerges from a once-in-a-century pandemic, the need for robust public health funding is evident. That includes support for local entities to prepare and respond to the next public health crisis, in whatever form it may take. That also means support for those experiencing the lingering effects of the pandemic, such as resources for individuals suffering from addiction or mental health challenges, including the continued opioid crisis.

Food access remains a critical component for public health. The City’s Division of Community Nutrition and Food Policy has connected households to fresh produce options, partnered on transportation to grocery stores, collaborated with food banks and food pantries on food distributions, empowered small business grocers, and much more. Yet present economic conditions necessitate further resources to build out a better food access ecosystem, encourage healthy foods, and reduce food deserts. State funding is critical in making that a reality.