Mt. Vernon Register-News

Community News Network

February 23, 2013

Counties’ organization backs GOP House budget plan over Pence plan

INDIANAPOLIS — The Republican-dominated Association of Indiana Counties has thrown its support behind the House Republicans’ budget plan that calls for spending the state’s surplus on roads and schools instead of a tax cut proposed by Gov. Mike Pence.

The association’s members have been lobbying legislators to vote for the proposed House budget bill that increases funding for transportation infrastructure by $500 million over the next two years, with about half of that going to local governments to fix their crumbling roads.

The bill, which the Republican Pence opposes because it doesn’t include his tax cut, is scheduled for a final House vote early this week then moves to the Senate.

The Association of Indiana Counties favors not just the extra dollars but the funding mechanism: Under the budget plan crafted by the Republican-controlled House Ways and Means Committee, all gas taxes will be redirected to roads. Currently, some are siphoned off for the Indiana State Police and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

“We think this is the fiscally responsible thing to do,” said Andrew Berger, the association’s government affairs director.

The association is made up of elected county officials from across the state, and most are Republican.

They may have voted for Pence last fall when he ran on a pledge to use the state’s surplus to cut taxes, but road funding is critical to them: Between 2000 and 2010, the major sources of road repair money collected by the state and doled out to local governments dropped by about $100 million, while road repair costs doubled.

Association president Penny Luckinbill, the Republican Marshall County auditor, said the House budget plan provides the additional funding that counties need “to begin reclaiming some of the roads that have fallen into severe disrepair.”

Elkhart County Commissioner Mike Yoder, a Republican and an association board member, said the road funding plan in the House budget bill is good public policy because it uses road-related taxes to pay for road repairs and maintenance. But he said it still won’t generate enough money to pay for the estimated $800 million in needed county road repairs.

“We’ve been telling our legislators for the last several years that there is a continual problem with road funding,” Yoder said.   

The association’s support comes at a time when Pence is engaged in an intra-party fight over the budget with Republican legislative leaders.

He’s unhappy that the House budget bill doesn’t include his 10 percent cut in the state income tax rate. The cut would save the average Hoosier about $100 but cost the state $720 million over the next two years and $500 million every year after that.  

Republican legislative leaders want to spend that money on schools, roads, and services for the needy, but Pence has defended the tax cut, saying it gives new tax relief to “hardworking Hoosiers.”  

The House budget bill also doesn’t contain his road funding plan that would pump state dollars into transportation infrastructure only after Indiana’s surplus tops 12.5 percent of what it spends in a year. It would divert the extra payments to pension obligations and the automatic taxpayer refunds that are currently triggered by the 12.5 percent surplus.

Pence’s budget team estimates his plan would add $347 million to road funding over the next two years. But county officials fear it’s a temporary fix at best; both House and Senate legislative leaders have also rejected the idea.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • quake.jpg Pennsylvania won’t take action following Ohio ruling on quakes, fracking

    Pennsylvania officials plan no action despite new Ohio rules on drilling that affect a seismically active area near the state line.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 17, 2014

  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 16, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • portraitoflotte.jpg VIDEO: From infant to teen in four minutes

    Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester’s time lapse video of his daughter, Lotte — created by filming her every week from her birth until she turned 14 — has become a viral sensation.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 15, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Google acquires drone maker Titan Aerospace to spread Internet

    Google is adding drones to its fleets of robots and driverless cars.
    The Internet search company said it acquired Titan Aerospace, the maker of high-altitude, solar-powered satellites that provides customer access to data services around the world. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

    April 14, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks