Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico exchanged comments regarding Indiana’s privatization of 157 miles of toll roads through two articles that appeared in The Washington Post, titled Indiana didn’t ‘sell its toll roads and Taxpayers paying for roads – twice. This exchange concerns the Senator's proposal to, among other provisions, remove lane miles which are under a long-term PPP lease agreement from the formula which generates federal gas tax dollars to the states. If Senator Bingaman's proposal were to become law, Indiana's groundbreaking long-term lease of the Indiana Toll Road (ITR) in 2006 to a private entity which generated over $4 billion of upfront money for needed state transportation improvements, as well as over $4 billion of improvements to the ITR, would cause the Hoosier state to take the biggest hit.
It's important in this debate to highlight what may be the unique circumstances under which the ITR was initially paid for and then added to the federal interstate system; but the Governor's broader point about the role of the federal government in encouraging private investment and innovation rather than squelching such efforts should resonate in every statehouse.
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