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Mass Transit Supporters Make Final Bid To Legislature

Supporters of a central Indiana mass transit upgrade are making a final bid to win authorization for a tax referendum before the legislature adjourns on Friday.

The Senate scrapped a House-passed bill to let Marion and Hamilton Counties vote on a local income-tax hike, in favor of a legislative study committee. Indy Connect Now executive director Ron Gifford suggests passing both bills, with a sunset provision to require re-approval of the referendum next year.

Even though that would still leave the referendum in limbo for another year, Gifford says it would prevent the study committee from starting from scratch. He says legislators should focus any study on the specifics of the current proposal, not repeat past studies of transit in general.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard made a final pitch for the proposal. He warns delaying the project will just mean higher construction costs when it finally does happen.

Senate Republicans still sound skeptical. Indianapolis Senator Pat Miller says she is concerned about whether the income tax is the best funding option.

Senator Brent Waltz (R-Greenwood) notes the proposal is still evolving, with some backers offering to set aside an Indianapolis-to-Noblesville rail line that sparked the most initial opposition.

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