Transportation, ISTEP bills headed to governor's desk

INDIANAPOLIS -- State lawmakers worked late into the evening Thursday on the final day of the 2016 Legislative Session.

A $1 billion funding plan for state and local roads cleared a final hurdle. In one of their last acts in the session, legislators sent it to Gov. Mike Pence's desk.

The two-year plan is short-term, and the majority of the funds are for local roads. Some of that money is already in the Major Moves program. About half will come from the state's reserves.

It also includes:

  • $254 million for locally-controlled roads
  • $430 million transfer to cities and towns from local option income taxes
  • $328 million in funding for state roads

The plan also shifts an additional one-and-a-half cents from every dollar collected from the sales tax on gasoline to a fund for local roads.

The General Assembly also approved bills to eliminate ISTEP and expand school vouchers. Bills for the release of police body camera video and curbing the reduction of meth are also headed to the governor's desk. 

Pence lauded the session as a "win for Indiana."

His opponent, former House Speaker John Gregg, pointed instead to "missed opportunities" -- particularly the General Assembly's failure to pass an updated civil rights bill.

One thing they did manage to pass was a controversial abortion rights bill that divided the GOP Caucus.

With the ISTEP-killing bill passed, lawmakers will still have to appoint a committee to determine what will replace it. They have until May to do so.

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