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April 28, 2013

Budget bill includes funding boost for local roads

$215 million in new road funding set aside

(Continued)

INDIANAPOLIS —

In 2009, studies done by Purdue University’s Local Technical Assistance Center and by the American Society of Civil Engineers estimated it would take more $800 million to fix about half of all county paved roads in Indiana that are badly need of repair.

The budget bill only allocates a fraction of that. It projects there will be $136 million more in road funding for counties over the next two fiscal years, and $64 million more for cities and towns.  

But the budget bill also makes some changes that could lead to a continuing source of road repair dollars. It rejects the Pence plan to beef up road funding with money now going to pay off the state’s pension obligations, and instead takes about $135 million in fuel taxes now going to the Indiana State Police and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and shifts that money into road repair. 

It also reallocates 1 percent of the current sales tax into the state’s motor vehicle highway fund, from which state and local road repair money is doled out. 

The budget bill also sets aside $200 million a year to go into the new Major Moves 2020 Fund to pay for future major road projects, such as expanding Interstate 65 and Interstate 70. 

Bortoff predicts local communities will start to see the extra road money be put to work by late summer, when communities can start accessing those extra dollars.

“We’re encouraging our members not to pull back on what they’re  currently spending and use that money to spend on something else,” Bortoff said. “This is money that should be used to supplement existing road dollars, not supplant them.”

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