Mass transit bill passes Indiana House vote, goes to Senate

House votes 56-39 in favor of bill

INDIANAPOLIS - The push for a bigger, more modern mass transit system in central Indiana made progress at the Statehouse Monday, as House Bill 1011 passed a full House vote, 56-39.

The bill, which would put an advisory referendum on the November 2014 ballot in Marion and Hamilton and surrounding counties, now heads to the Senate for a vote.

The referendum would authorize the creation of a transit authority and a .3 percent income tax increase in participating counties.

Supporters of the bill emphasized the need for improved transit to help people without cars get to work, school, medical care and shopping.

It would also attract the kind of young, high-tech and entrepreneurial talent needed the make the area grow.

Supporters said even people who never get on a bus or train would benefit.

"Some people say, 'Why should I pay this tax when I'll probably never, ever get on one of those buses?'  And the reason is because in many ways, we will all benefit whether we ever, whether you ever step on a bus or not," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel.

 

Opponents said central Indiana does not have the population density to financially support transit and that it would be a drain on government finances that would eventually require another tax increase.

"This is a very risky bill," said Rep. Mike Speedy, R-Indianapolis. "And frankly for me and for my tax dollars and those of my district, it's too risky. I can make an argument that this can not only lead to one tax increase, but two."

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