Lawmakers Critical Of Governor's Billion Dollar Toll Road Deal

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018 9:42am

By Mike Perleberg and Benjamin Yount, 24/7 News Source

Lawmakers are upset that Gov. Eric Holcomb has unilateral control over spending of $1 billion from a renegotiated Indiana Toll Road contract.

Indiana Statehouse

(Indianapolis, Ind.) - It’s not that they are angry about building new roads.

The handful of lawmakers in Indianapolis who are upset with Governor Eric Holcomb’s new road building plan are upset because he didn't consult them first.

Holcomb’s office said Tuesday the governor has the power to decide how to spend the $1 billion windfall from the new toll road contract. The governor could put the money toward roads or other projects including trails and rural broadband access.

According to The Northwest Indiana Times, the renegotiated deal allows the privately-operated Indiana Toll Road to toll trucks 35 percent more.

Last week, Holcomb decided to delay the start of tolling on interstates until at least 2025, when a potential second term for the governor would end.

"I am deeply disappointed in the governor," State Representative Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) told The Times. "You can't go preach that we have a 20-year, fully-funded infrastructure plan, the best in the nation, and then slowly but surely cut it away."

Soliday is the former chairman of the House Roads and Transportation Committee. He said the state fuel tax revenue is projects to fall significantly in 2024 due to vehicles becoming more fuel efficient and electric vehicles becoming more popular.

“Without a way to replace that money Indiana's road funding plan quickly falls apart,” he said.

Democrats are also not happy about the governor’s sole discretion over the $1 billion toll road payment. State Rep. Greg Porter (D-Indianapolis), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, told the Associated Press that lawmakers knew nothing of it.

State Senator Ryan Mishler (R-Bremen) said at a Tuesday meeting of the State Budget Committee that lawmakers may look at legislation to re-appropriate the toll road payment and make sure there is a check on the governor's office going forward. 

Lawmakers will reconvene in January to craft Indiana’s next two-year state budget.

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