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The Journal Gazette

Monday, October 23, 2017 2:50 pm

Most Hoosiers OK with gas-tax hike, poll finds

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS -- Most Indiana residents approve of a recent gas tax hike passed by lawmakers to repair and improve Indiana’s roads, a new poll shows.

About 57 percent of respondents of the Hoosier Survey said they supported the tax increase while about 38 percent disapproved.

The General Assembly raised fuel taxes by 10 cents starting July 1, and also implemented an automatic annual adjustment. Fiscal analysts predict this increase will cost an average Hoosier motorist about $48 per year.

The hike was part of what legislators called a 20-year plan that also included a new $15 registration fee for all vehicles. By 2025 new road funding, state and local, will reach $1.2 billion a year to be plowed into bridges, roads and interstates.

The study also found the gas tax was:

  • most popular among people ages 18-34 (65 percent approve, 28 percent disapprove);
  • least popular among people age 55 and older (51 percent approve, 43 percent disapprove);
  • most popular in southern Indiana: (63 percent approve, 27 percent disapprove).

Dr. Charles Taylor, managing director at the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University, said the survey also looked across political parties and found near-identical support.

“We all hate potholes,” he said. “We finally found one thing to agree on.”

That support will likely make it difficult to use the gas tax increase as a political issue in 2018 elections.

The new law also allows for Indiana’s governor to implement tolling on existing Indiana highways in the future but the survey didn’t address whether Hoosiers support additional tolling in the state.

The full results of the survey will be released Nov. 9.

Old National Bank/Ball State University Hoosier Survey has been conducted annually by the Bowen Center for Public Affairs since 2008. The nonpartisan public policy survey provides Indiana policymakers, citizens and news media with a measure of public opinion on current issues facing the state and nation. The Bowen Center contracted with the Princeton Survey Research Associates to poll 600 adults.

nkelly@jg.net