Bill to divert road money in Indiana stalls

| Tuesday, March 08, 2005

An Indiana House bill that sought to funnel about $3 million of state road-repair money from urban areas to rural counties has died.

House lawmakers failed to approve the measure – HB1336 – prior to the March 1 deadline for bills to pass from their originating chamber, effectively killing it for the year.

Rep. Andy Thomas, R-Brazil, the bill’s sponsor, said the proposal was intended to help settle what he and other rural lawmakers view as an imbalance in the way the state distributes state money for local road repairs.

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.

Thomas’ bill would have included pickup trucks in the state’s local road funding formula.

The measure, which previously passed the House Roads and Transportation Committee, called for phasing in pickups and SUVs to the formula over several years. Every county would have more vehicles counted in the formula, but rural areas would gain money because they generally 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 $3.1 million of that.

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

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