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House Democrat Road Plan Full of Political Potholes

This may sound odd, but I was actually excited to see my House Democratic friends Monday  when they unveiled their plan to fix Indiana’s roads.

The last few plans they put out didn’t really impress all that much.  Their last one was to create a $250 million road fund that locals could borrow from at $5 million at a time.  So I was eager to see what they were going to do.

And then I saw it.  And then I asked myself “seriously?!”

Their plan was to take all the money collected by the sales tax on gasoline and special fuels and put that toward road maintenance.  It would generate about $525 million for roads and infrastructure with 53 percent going to the state and 47 percent going to the locals.  Sounds good right?  Wrong.

The problem is this plan has as many holes in it as the roads my Democratic friends complain about.

First of all the revenue collected from the sales tax on gasoline goes to the general fund which pays for a lot more than roads.  It also helps pay for schools, public safety, the BMV, teacher pensions, a lot of things.  If you take that out, you have to replace it.  Democrats says they would use the dollars in the state surplus to replace that revenue.  Well that only gets you about four years, at best seeing how the surplus is $2 billion and Democrats want to spend about $525 million annually.

Secondly, local governments have about $500 million in annual road needs.  The Democrat plan only covers about $235 million of that so there is still a $265 million shortfall and the surplus is gone.

Third, and most important, this does nothing to address Indiana’s long-term road funding problem.  Much like the rest of the country, revenue from gas taxes is dropping, mostly because of fuel-efficient vehicles so we will have to rethink how we pay for roads (pardon the pun) down the road.

Like I said, I really was hoping for something new and bold Monday from my Democratic friends on road funding.  Unfortunately, all I got was a plan that really fell short of expectations.   And it’s a road that we have all been down before.