I came across a WNDU story from March 3 entitled “Strong opposition lingers against proposed toll road lease.”
The figures come from constituent surveys taken by state Senators. In one Democrat State Senate District in South Bend, 93% were against a toll road lease. In a Republican Senate District in and around Bremen, 85% were against a toll road lease.
The polls are not scientific and contain data over several months, but presumably they are accurate enough that the Senators feel they are worth doing. Unpopularity notwithstanding, 85% of Republican state senators voted for the toll road privatization.
In a phone interview with Republican Senator Dennis Kruse of Auburn, he said, “I think part of it is, they haven’t had a Republican governor for 16 years. So there’s a tendency to think we should support whatever our Republican governor proposes.”
Senator Kruse was one of five Republican Senators going against the governor’s wishes, by voting no.
“Now, we’re trying to take an asset of the state of Indiana, which is part of our infrastructure, and trying to make that into a money making machine. I don’t think that’s what the intent of our road system is for,” said Kruse.
Friday, Representative Tim Neese of Elkhart, spoke to school students who would be in their 80’s by the time the lease matured.
“It’s not automatic, that because you voted for it once, that you will vote for it again,” said Neese on Friday.
Citizens in northern Indiana should be opposed to this bill. The taxes they pay in the form of tolls (taxes not paid by residents in other parts of Indiana) will be increased significantly in large part so that road construction can take place in other parts of the state. Also keep in mind that part of the deal is that US 20 cannot be improved so that it provides an alternative to the Toll Road. I think legislators from northern Indiana should think long and hard about whether they think their constituents should be used as piggy banks for the rest of the state.
In my mind, Indiana roads should be funded by taxes assessed generally against all of the citizens of the state, not by taxes paid almost exclusively by residents of one region of the state and certainly not where the roads will be constructed somewhere other than the taxed region.