Indiana’s two-year state budget was passed earlier this year, but Governor Mike Pence is vocalizing the possibility of using state reserves to fund additional road projects.
The Governor’s comments came this week during a question and answer session at the Indiana State Fair. A $2.1-billion reserve fund is in place to aid emergency projects such as infrastructure improvements. That’s something State Senator Jim Arnold says should be more heavily utilized.
“If you’re not going to tap into it on these specific issues like this, what’s the sense of even having them? Are we jus saving them and saying: hey, look what I’ve done?”
Weeks prior to a moving pier at the Wildcat Creek Bridge on Interstate 65 caused road closures and major traffic issues in the state, State Senator Arnold sent a letter to Governor Pence requesting a meeting.
Arnold says he wanted to discuss road repair costs, priority projects, and to understand how Senate District 8 compares with projects in other legislative areas. The meeting with the Governor’s staff took place Monday, with I-65 work altering Arnold’s travels.
The Indiana General Assembly won’t be back in session until January, but Arnold says that shouldn’t stop reserve funding from being used now
“For some reason as we came through this year, $100-million was cut out of the INDOT budget,” says Arnold. “I know not why. I didn’t appreciate it. But unfortunately there are powers that be that felt we could get through it.”
Arnold is a ranking member on the State Senate’s Transportation Committee. He says there are several projects in his district that need immediate attention, including Highway 20 through Michigan City.
While unsure if he’ll be leading efforts to increase road project funding, there may be some desirable solutions come January. Representatives could be asked to name the top three infrastructure projects in their districts and the committee would prioritize.
There are whispers that 2016 could be termed the “year of infrastructure.”