Transportation is a vital issue for agriculture, but finding a way to pay for the upkeep and improvement of Indiana roads may take some new ideas. Governor Mike Pence has made funding road and bridge repair a major priority and, in this year’s proposed state budget, funding for roads has been adequate says Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann. “In the most recent state budget the Governor and the General Assembly agreed on supplementing revenue from the gas tax by $400 million. In the proposed budget, now being considered by the legislature, we are proposing $350 million on top of the gas tax revenue,” she stated. But she admits this is a short-term solution and, in the long run, a new way to fund road repair will need to be found.
The gas tax has been the primary source of funds to maintain Indiana roads. Ellspermann says, in the near future, that may no longer be the case. “We do need to fix the gas tax,” she told HAT. “We have not increased it for many years, and it is no longer a very good measure as a user fee. Two years from now the General Assembly will have to look at a long-run funding approach.”
She added, if agriculture is to continue to grow, the Hoosier State must find a new way to fund transpiration. As the food processing sector of the ag economy continues to increase, ways to move products to urban areas around the nation will be vital. She said Indiana is not the only state dealing with this issue, “Other states and the federal government are all struggling with this issue as the world has changed around us. Better fuel mileage, and hybrid and electric cars, is making the gas tax not the best tool for funding transportation.” She said being known as the state that is the Crossroads of America means Indiana must have a viable transportation system.