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Competing road funding plans move forward

Posted at 11:22 PM, Feb 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-03 23:22:55-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- Two different plans on how to fix the state's roads are driving ahead. 

The difference between the plans is whether you should pay extra taxes to pay for construction. Under one plan, gas and cigarette taxes would increase. The other plan relies on borrowing money. 

The House plan includes a $1 increase per pack in the cigarette tax and an increase to the gas tax, which is estimated to cost the average driver $25 per year.

Those are ideas that don't sit will with Democrats. 

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"That tax on cigarettes only funds roads if people keep smoking. We think that's going to be a dwindling revenue source. And the amount of gasoline that people are using, even if we index, that's a declining source," Rep. Dan Forestal said. 

The tax increases could also be a tough sell in the Senate, where the bill is headed next.

"First, let's look at the resources we have. And quite frankly, the resources that we have are quite enormous," Sen. Luke Kenley said. 

The Senate unanimously approved an infrastructure proposal that mirrors Gov. Pence's $2 billion plan. The plan uses some of the state's reserves from road repairs. It authorizes borrowing, although the state would not be able to issue bonds until the end of next year's legislative session, when lawmakers craft a budget. 

House Republicans indicate the idea could be a non-starter. 

"We have worked hard to get out of the borrowing business and get into the pay-as-you-go business, whether it's pensions, or road funding or building construction," Rep. Brian Bosma said. 

The Senate president says he's working closely with the administration to reduce the amount of borrowing. Bosma says his caucus will try to find common ground. 

Whether that can happen in the remaining five weeks of the session remains to be seen. 

Both plans move to the opposite chamber for consideration. Gov. Pence has said he won't support any bill that includes a tax increase. 

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