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No gas or cigarette tax hike in transportation agreement, lawmakers hammer out details in final hours

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INDIANAPOLIS (March 9, 2016) – GOP leaders in the General Assembly said Wednesday they’ve reached an agreement on transportation funding.

The key now, before the session ends Thursday, is to sell the measure to everyone else.

“It will be very creative and it will begin soon,” House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) said Wednesday afternoon before meeting with his GOP caucus.

While lawmakers haven’t released specific details, what is clear is the House GOP plan to raise the gas tax by four cents and cigarette tax by one dollar is dead.

“I wanted a long-term solution,” Bosma said. “It was clear that wasn’t in the works for this session.”

Lawmakers will still claim a success, most likely dedicating millions of dollars toward state and local road funding short-term but holding off on a long-term funding solution for yet another year.

“There some heavy lifting in terms of a long-term plan that’s still going to have to be worked on,” State Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) said. “Probably in conjunction with next year’s budget, and I think we’re all committed to do that and solve the problem correctly.”

A recent study showed the state needs about $1 billion annually to maintain state roads and bridges.

“I had said in my initial announcement of this that I knew it was going to be a heavy lift in an election year and short session,” Bosma said. “So we’ve structured it in such a way we’re guaranteed to come back to the table in a budget long cycle next year.”

The House GOP plan was opposed by both Senate Republicans and Gov. Mike Pence. This year’s final agreement is likely to include pieces of each plan.

“If they say well we have an election in front of us, or it’s not a budget year and we get down to that next year, will there be another excuse?” Todd Vandermyde said, with the Local 150 Operating Engineers. “Will there be another reason to kick the can down the road?”