Indiana bill would divert road money

| Wednesday, February 02, 2005

An Indiana House panel has passed a bill that would shift large sums of state road-repair money from urban areas to rural counties.

Currently, all vehicles pay a state gas tax, which is collected and distributed among counties and local governments based on how many cars each area has. But pickups and sport utility vehicles are not counted in the formula used to distribute tax dollars for road repair and construction.

As a result, some say rural areas are paying the gas taxes without getting their fair share of state money for building and repairing roads.

The House Roads and Transportation Committee, a panel dominated by rural lawmakers, voted Jan. 31 to include pickup trucks in the state’s local road funding formula.

Sponsored by Rep. Andy Thomas, R-Brazil, the bill would phase in pickups and SUVs to the formula over three years. Every county would have more vehicles counted in the formula, but rural areas would gain money because they have a higher percentage of trucks.

In 2004, more than $79 million was distributed through the state’s local road and street fund. Including pickups in the formula would shift about $3.1 million of that, according to the Legislative Services Agency.

A recent analysis showed that 15 counties would lose money and 77 would gain funding in the redistribution.

HB1336 now moves to the full House for consideration.

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