Indiana lawmakers eye gas tax ahead of 2017 legislative session

The 2017 Indiana legislative session starts this week. Lawmakers will focus on the budget, and are eyeing taxes to help fund roads. (WISH Photo/Nick Natario)
The 2017 Indiana legislative session starts this week. Lawmakers will focus on the budget, and are eyeing taxes to help fund roads. (WISH Photo/Nick Natario)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — With funding expected to be tight, Republican leaders are eyeing tax increases when the 2017 legislative session starts.

The conditions were dreary outside the statehouse Monday, but it isn’t what lawmakers are calling for when they return. “We don’t sit around with our feet on the desk for the first couple of weeks like was traditional in the House, at least, for many generations,” House Speaker Brian Bosma said.

Besides the budget, road funding, education and attracting jobs are what Republicans are eyeing. For Democrats, it’s about roads, early childhood education, equality and wages.

“I’d like to see them just continue to stay fiscal and responsible,” Indiana resident Ray Mack said. “Keep the state going the way they have been. Creating jobs should be focus number one.”

“I think a lot really with the business and the social side,” Indiana resident Ashley Voorhies said. “More so the business.”

House Speaker Brian Bosma is ready. “I don’t get the jitters, but you can’t avoid feeling the excitement in the building,” Bosma said. “I still get pretty charged up.”

Speaking to 24-Hour News 8, the speaker said recent financial reports are making road and bridge funding difficult. “We are confirming that we’ll be looking to gas taxes and other user fees to fund those investments, which we believe are critical to the state’s future,” House Speaker Bosma said.

GOP leaders say they aren’t focused on social issues. But Hoosier Democrats think it’s important to make that a priority.

“We believe that we can be doing better,” Indiana Democratic Party Chairperson John Zody said. “Here in Indiana we have specific plans on specific issues where we think that’s the case.”

With the session expected to last months, lawmakers know opening day priorities always seem to change. “You’re always optimistic there’s going to be something good that comes out of the session,” Zody said.

The Senate will start Tuesday. The House will convene Wednesday.

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