Spend surplus to repair state roads


Let’s say you have a comfortable nest egg in your bank account.

Now, suppose you live in a home with a long driveway. But the driveway has fallen into such poor condition, you can’t use it, so you have to park out on the road.

You can afford to repair the driveway, so why wouldn’t you do it?

That’s the question Indiana faces today, and you have to wonder why it’s even a question.

Surely you’d fix the driveway unless you were fixated on the big number in your bank account, and it meant more to you than keeping up your property.

A recent news report said, “Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is considering using some of the state’s $2.14 billion in reserves to pay for infrastructure improvements, including high-priority repairs like those on an Interstate 65 bridge.”

Considering? He ought to be rushing to fix key roads as fast as possible. We should have started a long time ago.

Northeast Indiana residents may not have noticed that a portion of Interstate 65 between Indianapolis and Chicago was shut down last week because of a bridge failure.

If that had happened on Interstate 69, the problem surely would have our attention.

Interstate 65 carries even more traffic than I-69 and, local pride aside, it’s probably even more crucial to the state’s overall economy.

Pence seems to get the message.

Pence also said he supports discussions among legislators to make infrastructure the focus of the 2017 session, when they will write a new state budget.

The I-65 problem shows we can’t wait 18 months to start talking about ways to keep our most vital highways in shape.

We might be in this mess because Hoosier leaders focused too keenly on building the state’s reserves to a magic number of $2 billion. That’s a worthwhile goal, if we’re not achieving it by neglecting the basics.

Earlier this summer, Pence was reported to be thinking about spending some of the surplus to pay off the state’s $250 million debt to the federal government for unemployment benefits.

That seems like an easy decision, too. If you had a loan that was draining you with interest costs and penalty fees, and you easily could afford to pay it off, why wouldn’t you?

As Indiana built its big surplus, Pence has fended off all kinds of suggestions to spend it in other ways. Now that looks wise, because the state has found two really important uses for its reserve cash.

We squirreled away all that money so it would be there when Indiana needed it — and the time to use it is now.

This was distributed by the Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to [email protected].