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Mass Transit Bill Clears Committee Hurdle

Indy-Go

Photo: Courtesy: IndyGo

The bill would allow voters in Marion and Hamilton counties to vote on a referendum to raise income taxes to expand transit services.

Supporters of a Central Indiana mass transit referendum have won another round at the statehouse, but have more hurdles to clear. The Senate Local Government Committee voted 7-2 to let Marion and Hamilton County voters decide whether to authorize an income tax hike to expand Indy‘s bus system and perhaps launch rail service between Indy and Noblesville.

Supporters say a better transit system is critical to economic development — they argue Indianapolis stands nearly alone as a major metropolitan area. Backers say there‘s been a generational shift from people settling in the city where they find a job, to people moving to cities they like and then seeking work. They say transit is one of the key factors to attract them.

Westfield Mayor Andy Cook(R) urges its approval, saying the bill does not raise taxes.

“We are not here to ask you for a dollar,” he says. “We are not here to ask you to vote yes or no on mass transit. We are asking you for the ability to ask our people if they would like to know more about mass transit.”

Former Carmel City Councilman John Accetturo(R) complains the referendum asks citizens to vote blind.

“People want to know more about what the mass transit program will be. However, the way this program works is, we‘ll be voting for a tax and not knowing what it‘s going to be,” he says.

Committee chairman Randy Head (R-Logansport) limited testimony to the policy aspects of transit. Opponents who charge it would cost too much will get a fuller — and potentially more sympathetic –hearing in front of the Senate‘s Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee before it reaches the Senate floor.

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