Tentative agreement reached on roads funding package

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("Beacon" by Mitchell Hainfield, CC BY 2.0)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Statehouse Republican leaders are praising their plan to raise taxes on motorists in order to pay for road infrastructure improvements across Indiana.

Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate leader David Long beamed with pride during a Thursday news conference on the compromise agreement reached this week.

The plan, which still must go before the full House and Senate for votes, would raise fuel taxes by 10 cents a gallon while charging new registration fees that will cost most drivers $15.

That will pump an average yearly amount of about $1.2 billion into improvements for the state’s crumbling roads and bridges.

Most of the money will go to state roads, leaving the local governments with less than they had hoped for.

The bill also would authorize the governor to seek federal approval to implement tolling on interstate highways.

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Indiana lawmakers plan to release soon a broad outline of a roads funding agreement that will raise taxes, and details have slowly started to drip out.

Majority Republicans generally agree on raising the state’s per-gallon fuel taxes by at least 10 cents and charging new tire and vehicle registration fees. They hope to raise about $1.2 billion in new revenues annually.

The sticking points have been House proposals to raise cigarette taxes and shift all sales tax revenues also charged on fuel purchases to infrastructure funding.

House Speaker Brian Bosma says Senate Republicans have agreed to slowly shift all fuel sales taxes, but he says the cigarette tax is dead due to overwhelmingly opposition in the Senate.

He and other legislative leaders plan to discuss the deal Thursday afternoon.

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