Jennifer Whitson has an article in the Evansville Courier Press that does a good job providing an idea of where votes stand to be gained and lost on HB 1008, the Toll Road privatization bill. Some legislators are against the Perry Township provision which prohibits I-69 from going through Perry Township in Marion County if it is a toll road in that section. That, they say, will add long delays to the construction of an I-69 extension to Evansville. That provision is critical to some legislators vote, particularly those representing southwestern Indianapolis.
Other legislators, notably Senator Bray of Martinsville, want a provision that prohibits replacing any portion of State Road 37 with a toll road. (S.R. 37 runs from Indianapolis through Martinsville to Bloomington and beyond).
Meanwhile, Niki Kelly, writing for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, has an article discussing a Toll Road cost analysis commissioned by the Daniels’ administration that, unsurprisingly given the source, shows a state run Toll Road would net less than the sale of Toll Road operation rights for 75 years. That assumes a 22% rise in tolls every 7 years and 5% growth in operational expenditures.
The article discusses a Democratic ad blitz, apparently in response to the ad blitz started by the Governor. Whereas the Governor’s ad campaign focuses on Democrats in Southern Indiana who voted against the bill (two of whom also turned down the Governor’s chief of
staff’s suspiciously timed job offers with the State), the Democrats’ ads focus on Republicans in the northern part of the state: Mary Kay Budak, Steve Heim, Jackie Walorski, Marlin Stutzman, and Ralph Ayres. This regional division is a natural development in response to a bill that essentially taxes northern Indiana to pay for road construction in other parts of Indiana.
Finally (for me anyway), the Indy Star has an editorial asking the Governor and his people to spare us the spin when they say that “Aiming Higher,” the organization running the pro-privatization ads is unconnected to the Governor:
It comes as no surprise that the highway construction industry is giving generously to an organization run by close associates of Gov. Mitch Daniels and dedicated to the advancement of Major Moves, his road-building initiative.Just don’t insult the intelligence of the public by pretending this is all some kind of accidental intersection of folks interested in good government and Hoosier jobs.Community benefit may very well be on the minds of Aiming Higher and its contributors, but self-interest just might have at least a bit role as well. As for the efforts to downplay the connection to the governor, please.
The Star is on record as supporting the toll road privatization, so their objection here isn’t a matter of being another avenue to express underlying objections to HB 1008.
Does Sen. Bray’s position boil down to “tax those northerners as much as it takes to make sure my road is free?”