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Top senators eye sales tax for road needs

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 24, 2013 at 8:09 pm •  Published: January 24, 2013

Both Kenley and Lanane praised Pence this week for diverting money that would go to state employee pensions to create a transportation investment fund, calling it a sign that the new governor at least understands the pressing need for road money. But they both are asking for more.

As it stands now, the sales tax on gas goes into the pool of money used to pay for most state services and the money raised by the gas tax is divided among the transportation department, the Indiana State Police and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Lanane, who would like to see roughly $50 million from the sales tax used on gas for transportation, noted that most residents would support a logical source of revenue.

"I don't think that Hoosiers have a problem with a tax revenue source that makes sense to them," Lanane said. "Think about it, you're out there, you're buying gasoline to ride on those roads and streets, so this would be a user fee and this would be a logical way to help us catch up and keep the funding there to be adequate."

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said Thursday that he was considering diverting the sales tax on gas and House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said last week that the House budget proposal would find more money for transportation than Pence allocated.

But Kenley cautioned that the four-month session is still young and said he expects more fluidity in the debate, as lawmakers continue to float ideas.

"It seems to me that it's very important for Indiana's economy and for the rest of us consumers who drive I-65 and I-70 to have a better state and local road infrastructure system," he said. "It's a key component of Indiana's — not only businesses — but just the average taxpayer or consumer driving around this state."