Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) on Oct. 13 proposed investing an additional $1 billion over the next four years to fund the state’s roads and bridges. Gov. Pence’s plan would extract $241 million from Indiana’s budget surplus, with an additional $150 million in annual general fund appropriations for three years. Additional funding includes $50 million in earned interest from the Next Generation Trust Fund, $26 million from other bonds, and $240 million financed with the backing of the state’s AAA bond credit rating.
In a press release, Gov. Pence stated, “These additional funds will help INDOT make future maintenance and repairs as the interstate system comes of age, and will help ensure that our roads can support the economic and employment growth our state has seen over the last few years. Just as Hoosiers seek to build a financial reputation that allows them to build a future, our state has put in the hard work to guarantee that Indiana’s future is bright as we enter our third century.” (Indiana’s government was formed in 1816.)
Critics of the plan—including Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D- Anderson)—argued that the proposal was insufficient to meet Indiana’s transportation funding needs.
“Until we have a comprehensive plan for state and local governments to fund infrastructure in a sustainable way, the governor’s announcement is the equivalent of filling potholes,” Lanane said.
Gov. Pence’s plan follows weeks of criticism by transportation advocates and the Democratic party over how the governor and Republicans have funded transportation. Several high-profile transportation dilemmas—including the month-long closure of a heavily traveled I-65 bridge due to structural instability—spurred a campaign to improve the state’s roads and bridges. Democratic leaders urged frustrated residents to rally on social media by publishing photos of deficient roads and bridges with the hashtag #FixOurRoads. A television ad and mailing by the coalition “Better Roads Ahead” further appealed to Gov. Pence to utilize the state’s surplus in order to make necessary improvements to Indiana’s transportation infrastructure.
Gov. Pence’s plan must be approved by the state legislature in order to be enacted. In addition to the governor’s plan, the General Assembly’s Interim Study Committee on Roads and Transportation is scheduled to meet on Oct. 15 in order to consider the state’s options for long-term transportation funding.