A proposal threatening to move through the Indiana Legislature would expand public transportation in Central Indiana to the tune of $1.3 billion over the next decade. A transit commission has recommended an income tax increase to pay for a portion of the new spending. Mass transit expansion is already dubious in this area of the country; a large tax increase to pay for it makes this plan even harder to swallow.
We're already skeptical of bloated transit systems where there is insufficient demand to sustain a private transportation provider. And the large $1.3 billion price tag is almost guaranteed to swell over time, as we've seen with countless rail systems elsewhere in the country. But most importantly, by insisting on tax hikes to pay for this new project, those pushing it are effectively deeming it the lowest priority line item in the upcoming budget. If it's so important, the focus should be on reallocating existing funds, rather than hitting taxpayers up for more.
I'm not sure there is any serious appetite in the Republican legislature for this proposal, but it's worth keeping an eye on. Grover sent a letter to the legislature, CC'ing Gov. Mitch Daniels and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, today. For the full text of that letter, click Read More. For a PDF, click here.
December 13, 2011
Indiana House of Representatives
I write to express concern over pending mass transit legislation in Indiana. Reports indicate that some are considering a sizable income tax increase to pay for an expansion of public transportation in Central Indiana. Whether or not mass transit is sustainable on the $1.3 billion scale envisioned by the Central Indiana Transit Task Force, you certainly should not be levying harmful tax increases on families and job creators during these tenuous economic times.
Public transit can be of dubious value, especially in areas of the country that do not generate enough demand for a free market alternative. And $1.3 billion in buses and trains is a massive undertaking with costs that will almost certainly exceed projections. But even if it is determined that Central Indiana is ripe for an expansion of mass transit, it should also be determined that that $1.3 billion in spending is a higher priority than an existing $1.3 billion. Cut the lowest priority and use the savings to pay for the new project. Don't raise taxes.
For those of you who have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a tax increase to pay for transit expansion is a violation of that Pledge.
I urge you to oppose and vote against this tax increase, which voters simply can't afford. If you have any questions, please contact ATR state affairs manager Joshua Culling at [email protected].
CC: The Honorable Mitch Daniels
The Honorable Greg Ballard