The Indiana State Legislature is considering a 10-cent gasoline tax increase to raise an estimated $1.2 billion a year for road upkeep and construction. One local political leader who supports the bill is Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard.
“I’m a big proponent of user taxes,” he said. “Everybody wants low taxes, but they can’t be so low that we can’t compete as a state. We need to invest in ourselves. We don’t need to waste money, but we need to invest in schools and parks and quality of life and decent roads. Every successful state in this country needs good roads.”
The bill would increase the state’s current gas tax from 18 cents to 28 cents initially. It also could be tied to inflation, which means the tax could grow each year. There also would be extra fees for vehicle registration and a $150 fee for electric vehicles. The Indiana House passed a version of the bill Feb. 16, but some local Republicans oppose the measure because they see it as a massive tax hike. Some Democrats have opposed the tax increase, because they say it puts a burden on middle class motorists.
Brainard said many motorists, such as out-of-state truck drivers, are causing wear and tear driving through the state, but they aren’t paying into the state’s income tax.
“We’re building the roads, and the trucks that tear them up aren’t paying for them,” he said.
Brainard said it’s important for cities to have good roads because it drives economic development. He said that’s what led him to push for more than 100 roundabouts in Carmel.
“We aren’t getting the good jobs in our smaller towns in Indiana, and we need to invest in this state if we’re going to compete,” he said.