Indiana bills would benefit local, rural roads

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, January 17, 2013

Multiple efforts underway at the Indiana statehouse would provide a boost for local and rural road funding.

Gov. Mike Pence unveiled his recommended budget for the upcoming year with a focus on providing additional funding for transportation. Specifically, the governor’s proposal targets about $350 million in excess reserves during the next two years and would put that money in Indiana’s roads and infrastructure.

The new governor’s administration describes it as “a key component in growing Indiana’s transportation and logistics networks.”

Sen. Tim Skinner, D-Terre Haute, introduced two bills to help put more money into local roads and streets.

One bill would redistribute a portion of state sales tax on gas and diesel purchases to counties, cities and towns for local projects. Currently, the money is routed to the state’s General Fund.

The state’s fund receives 99.8 percent from all sales tax collections. Rail service funds split the rest. In 2012, the total sales tax revenue was about $6.63 billion.

Skinner’s bill would dip into the General Fund’s portion to help pay for local projects. SB440 specifies the allocation is for the amount of the tax that exceeds $3.

Revenue would be distributed based on their proportionate share of road and street mileage.

According to a fiscal impact statement, local governments would receive about $80 million in sales tax revenue during the next two years.

The second bill – SB441 – would direct 0.67 percent of the state general sales tax revenue be sent to counties, cities and towns for road and street use.

The change would drop general fund revenue by about $98 million over two years. Counties would get 78 percent of that amount with cities and towns claiming 22 percent.

The bills are in the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee.

Another bill would also change a funding formula for counties throughout the state.

The state’s local road and street account now distributes funds to counties based on the number of passenger car registrations. Rep. Jim Baird, R-Greencastle, introduced a bill that would include pickup trucks in the funding formula.

In the past year about $73 million was distributed to counties from the account. The money comes from fuel sales.

Baird’s bill – HB1072 – is in the House Roads and Transportation Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Indiana, click here.

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