INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The push for mass transit picked up some momentum at the Statehouse Tuesday as a transit bill passed the state Senate for the first time.
The debate over mass transit is really a debate over taxes and who pays them.
“I think that mass transit, when done properly,” said Sen. Brent Waltz of Greenwood, “is one of the most conservative things that I think a person can support.”
The bill calls for referendums in as many as six counties on higher local income taxes and higher corporate taxes.
Bus fares would go up to cover one-quarter of the cost.
“I pay enough in taxes,” said Sen. Mike Young (R-Indianapolis.) “If it works, then it oughta be able to pay for itself.”
The Senate voted 28-20 to send the transit bill to the Indiana House.
In the hallway was a minister seeking a better life for members of his church. “One member turned down 6 jobs,” said Rev. Carey Grady, “because he was unable to get work where he could get to as it relates to mass transit.”
Also there was an IUPUI professor who is studying the issue. “I’m concerned about my students getting to class,” said Wendy Vogt, “and students at IUPUI need mass transit.”
Meantime, the House Speaker doesn’t like the taxes, either. “I think the concept, we agree on,” said Rep. Brian Bosma, “and the means of getting there has been the difficulty for a decade.”
And there’s a side issue to deal with. The Senate bill includes an anti-labor provision that Democrats call a poison pill.
Mayor Greg Ballard is concerned enough about the future of the transit bill that he made a personal visit to the House Speaker this afternoon.