Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels last week distributed $240
million in revenue from the recent lease of the Indiana Toll Road, but a poll
shows the lease is unpopular among Hoosiers.
Daniels presented $40 million each to five counties affected by the
toll road, while Porter and Lake Counties received $25 million and $15 million,
respectively. Counties receiving $40 million were Elkhart, St. Joseph,
LaGrange, Steuben and LaPorte.
The revenue is part of a promised payout from Daniels’ controversial
“Major Moves” transportation plan, which saw the Indiana Toll Road leased to
foreign investors for $3.85 billion for the next 75 years.
In turn, the private investor – ITR Concession Co. consisting of Cintra
of Spain and Macquarie of Australia – will operate the 157-mile toll road and
keep the toll revenue.
Local governments in the seven counties will decide how their portions
of the lease revenue are spent.
“If the people of our toll road counties use this once in a lifetime
opportunity wisely, and we do the same statewide, we will leave our kids a
dramatically stronger Indiana, led by these seven counties,” Daniels stated in
a press release.
Daniels, a Republican, has promised funding to more than 200
transportation projects through “Major Moves.”
But the lease of the Indiana Toll Road has been controversial,
particularly on partisan lines.
House Minority Leader Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, has been publicly
critical, saying the short-term payouts will be gone in a few years while the
foreign investors profit for decades.
“No matter how big these numbers, they cannot overcome the fact that
the bulk of the revenue generated by the Indiana Toll Road over the next 75
years will be sent overseas,” Bauer told The
A telephone survey of 800 Indiana residents, conducted by Research 2000
of Maryland for WISH-TV in Indianapolis, showed 55 percent of those asked do not approve of the lease. About 39
percent approve, and 6 percent are not sure.
The survey showed more Republican voters – 46 percent – favored the
lease than Democratic voters – 30 percent.
The survey wasn’t the first time Indiana residents have spoken up
against the lease.
Back in March, a group of residents including OOIDA Member Randy Nace
challenged the constitutionality of “Major Moves,” taking the case all the way
to the Indiana Supreme Court before a ruling was handed down in favor of
Daniels and the Indiana Finance Authority.