Following the election, Republicans hold all major state offices in Indiana as well as a super majority in both chambers of the state Legislature. What does this mean for Indiana agriculture?
Indiana corn and soybean farmers gathered in Hamilton County for a post-election breakdown on both the state and federal levels. While there remain a lot of unknowns on the federal level, on the state level, the key issues important to Indiana farmers look promising in the new administration.
John Ketzenberger, with the with the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute, says one of the top issues for farmers will also be a top issue for lawmakers and the Governor: funding for roads and infrastructure. “It is likely that the General Assembly will pass an increase in the state gas tax and index it to some aspect of the economy to insure funding levels will keep up with inflation,” he said. “These funds, along with permission for local governments to hike wheel taxes, will provide significant funding for repairs of roads and bridges in the state.”
He said the challenge for agriculture is to make sure the funding plan apportions adequate funds for repair of rural roads and bridges. “I think there is an awareness of the need to improve rural roads, but agriculture will have to do more work in this area,” he stated.
He added that this transportation package will also likely include funding for improvements of broadband service in rural communities. “The deal the state struck to lease its cell towers is a good start, and the governor talked a lot about this in the campaign,” he said. “So I think we are going to see progress on this, but it is going to take a long time to get to the last mile.”
Ketzenberger says Ted McKinney is likely to remain as head of ISDA. In fact, he sees very few changes in leadership at ISDA. As for Lt. Governor Suzan Crouch, who has kept a low profile since the election, he said she still has lot to learn about agriculture. “She has a lot of experience at both the state and local level and was willing to learn about ag issues during the campaign,” Ketzenberger told HAT. He speculated that the reason for her invisibility since being elected is that she is working on getting up to speed on the many aspects of the office. Ketzenberger told the group that the Holcomb administration may look and act more like a Daniels administration than a Pence administration.
The event was sponsored by the Indiana Soybean Alliance and the Indiana Corn Growers Association and took place at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds. Sam Willett from the National Corn Growers office in Washington and Patrick Delaney from the American Soybean Association presented analysis of federal issues including trade, the EPA, Biotechnology, and the RFS.