Plan to increase gas prices, add fees to fix roads passes IN Senate

Plan to increase gas prices, add fees to fix roads passes IN Senate on April 4, 2017. (WISH photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A spike at the pump is another step closer in Indiana after the Senate approved a road funding bill.

Legislators debated the proposal for more than an hour Tuesday. The bill calls for tax increases, but Republican members urged colleagues to be brave and support the plan or else roads will be in terrible shape.

INDOT said it needs more than a billion dollars a year for the next 20 years to fix Indiana roads and bridges. To get the money, Republicans proposed increasing the price at the pump by 10 cents a gallon, $15 vehicle fees and tolls.

Democrats don’t agree with imposing the tax increase on everyone. But Republicans argued it’s a fair way to raise the money.

“We’re either going to move and we’re going to be all those great things people say about Indiana, or we don’t have enough guts to raise the revenue to do the things that we need to do,” State Sen. Luke (R-Noblesville) said.

“We still have trouble with the idea that while we are lowering taxes over here, we are adding taxes in another place,” State Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage) said.

Democrats in both the House and Senate offered alternatives. Each proposal didn’t call for pump price increases.

Instead, Democrats wanted to cut wealthy tax breaks, use the gas fuel and state reserves. Both plans were defeated.

There are differences between the Senate and House version. The House relies on a cigarette tax increase to allow the state to use the entire fuel tax to fix roads. The Senate prefers to use tolls.

The two sides will come together in a conference committee to finalize the bill.

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