INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gubernatorial candidates are outlining their plans to
enlist more corporate help for transportation needs as Indiana faces a new
drop in road funds.
Democrat John Gregg said Thursday the state should amass a $500 million
investment fund to leverage support for road construction, and said the next
governor should work with companies on creative financing models.
"We will ensure that Indiana invests wisely in the essential infrastructure
that maintains and enhances our quality of life, allows our businesses and
industries to operate efficiently, and keeps us connected to the economy of
the future," said Gregg's Democratic running mate, Vi Simpson.
Republican Mike Pence has yet to say exactly how he would cover the drop in
road spending, but has said he plans to use public-private partnership rules
approved by state lawmakers in order to work with private investors to build
"Mike Pence believes that roads mean jobs," Pence spokeswoman Christy
Denault said in a statement. "The first task of the next administration
should be to maintain our existing infrastructure and finish the business of
Major Moves, including I-69, U.S. 31 and the Ohio River Bridges."
Gov. Mitch Daniels has paid for road projects largely through the $3.8
billion reaped by leasing the Indiana Toll Road in 2006. But that money,
with the exception of a half-billion socked away in a trust fund, has been
either spent or committed to projects already, leaving the next governor
with a deficit of roughly $500 million a year to make up.
With no plan to raise taxes to cover the new spending, Gregg said the state
should dedicate the state's gas tax to paying for construction exclusively —
it's currently used to pay for operations at the state's tax collection
agency and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, in addition to transportation
projects — and tap the toll road reserve fund to create a new investment
Gregg estimates, using a Federal Highway Administration formula, that his
plan to invest a total of $3.5 billion across the state would create 97,300
David Holt, vice president of operations and business development for
Conexus Indiana, said candidates are weighing a new dynamic in
transportation where the gas tax is no longer sufficient to pay for road
Drivers have always paid "user fees" to pay for road construction via gas
taxes, he said, but the increase of alternative fuels has cut into the gas
tax as a source, Holt said.
Public-private partnerships, like the toll road leasing or former Chicago
Mayor Richard M. Daley's leasing of the Chicago Skyway, have gained traction
with states facing budget crunches and politicians wary of raising taxes, he
The "P3s" could mean a lot of things, but generally involve private
companies collecting tolls to pay for the operation of a road, Holt said.
"It allows us to build infrastructure where currently we can't" Holt said.