INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Republicans are quick to proclaim the $1.2 billion Next Level Roads initiative is a “fully-funded, 20-year infrastructure plan,” implying that Indiana’s days of underfunded infrastructure are behind us. The truth? Republicans’ bevy of levies and fee hikes don’t raise enough revenue to even take care of the infrastructure we have, according to a 2015 study of Indiana’s infrastructure funding needs.
So, as State Representative Ed Soliday previously stated, “to meet the full need in the future, the state will explore tolling as another revenue source”. Governor Holcomb and Statehouse Republicans quietly authorized a tolling feasibility study with results due by December 1.
The conundrum for Republicans? Tolling is about as popular as a root canal, with a recent Ball State poll showing 75 percent of Hoosiers opposed. A funding shortfall means, every year, Indiana’s infrastructure crisis will continue to mushroom without additional revenue. The options look grim. Republicans can continue to pretend Indiana’s infrastructure crisis is solved, while kicking the can on a real solution, or begin tolling Indiana’s existing interstates.
It’s a difficult decision that Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody believed Holcomb and Statehouse Republicans have unnecessarily forced.
“Holcomb and Statehouse Republicans could have been forthcoming with Hoosiers and sold Next Level Roads as a step, not a wholesale solution,” said Zody. “Instead, they prematurely pronounced Indiana’s infrastructure crisis solved. Without a complete funding plan, the future bill keeps rising.”