The price of progress


Kokomo Tribune

You might’ve noticed you’re paying a bit more at the pump than you did in June.

That’s because state taxes on gasoline went up half a cent on July 1 and diesel fuel, a penny per gallon.

The Indiana gas tax rose to 30 cents per gallon. The 2017 tax hike, along with global market forces, has contributed to a 68 cent increase in the cost of gasoline in two years. The average price in Indiana for a gallon of regular gas was $2.486, GasBuddy reported recently. In 2017, it was $2.169 a gallon.

And that’s not exactly a bad thing.

As we reported four years ago, Indiana’s previous gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon hadn’t changed in more than two decades. And it had not kept up with inflation.

The shortfall was significant because, like the rest of the country, Indiana was doing quite poorly when it came to infrastructure grading.

In 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the United States a “D” grade for its infrastructure, while Indiana received a slightly better grade, receiving a “D-plus.”

Something had to be done and fast. Our gas tax was simply not collecting as much as it once was. The old model was not going to work. Cars today are more fuel efficient. People are driving more fuel efficient hybrids and electric vehicles. Fewer people are driving at all.

So Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Legislature changed the gas tax formula in 2017 to maintain roads and bridges in a timely manner, and gas taxes now are tied to inflation each year on July 1. They also raised vehicle registration fees by $15. Hybrid owners pay $50 more to register their vehicle, and electric-car motorists pay $150 more.

State government needed to be proactive, not reactive. Indiana needed a long-term solution, not short-term thinking. It needed income coming in to address maintenance issues on an ongoing basis. And we got it.

It’s not as if we can afford to let the roads we have completely deteriorate.

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