By Kathy Bottorff
Congressman Todd Rokita (IN-04) and Congressman Joe Donnelly (IN-02) sent a letter to House members of the House-Senate Conference Committee who are negotiating the Transportation Bill (commonly referred to as the "Highway Bill") to advocate on behalf of Hoosiers for fair infrastructure funding for Indiana relative to other states. Every House member of the Indiana delegation signed on to the letter authored by Donnelly and Rokita.
"There are key provisions in the Senate version of the bill that would result in unfair treatment for Indiana," said Rokita. "Indiana has been a "donor' state for decades, meaning that Hoosiers are effectively subsidizing infrastructure work in other states. Additionally, the Senate version of the bill would punish states like Indiana that have innovated and saved money through public-private partnerships. That's fundamentally unfair, and that's why we're urging the conference committee to ensure that Indiana is treated equitably in the final bill."
"Indiana should not face a disadvantage relative to other states in receiving transportation resources," said Donnelly. "These resources can be used to put more people back to work, for example, by repairing roads and bridges. We need to ensure that Indiana maintains our current level of funding and doesn't face future job losses at the expense of other states."
In the letter, Rokita and Donnelly highlighted three main issues:
Under an amendment offered by Senator Bingaman in the Senate-passed transportation bill, MAP-21, states with public-private partnerships would receive reduced levels of highway formula funding. This provision, which would only apply to three states including Indiana, would decrease Indiana's transportation funding by $42 million per year or -4.5. This money would be redistributed to give funding increases to 47 other states and Washington, D.C. Rokita and Donnelly oppose this provision.
The Senate-passed transportation bill also eliminates the existing Equity Bonus Program, currently law, which requires that all states receive back no less than 92% of their contributions to the Highway Trust Fund. This change would provide no protection to donor states like Indiana. Rokita and Donnelly oppose eliminating the Equity Bonus program.
The Conference Committee is currently deciding what the overall funding level for federal highway programs should be. Rokita and Donnelly demand that Indiana be treated fairly relative to other states. If overall funding remains at the current level, Indiana's funding should be maintained at the current level, and if overall funding is cut, Indiana's cut in funds should be no more than a proportional cut.