FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 13, 2004
Greg Travis Association of Monroe County Taxpayers 812-391-0988
Andy Knott Hoosier Environmental Council 317-685-8800
Tom Tokarski Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads 812-825-9555
Taxpayer Group Joins I-69 Truth Squad
New Alert Reveals Fallacy of "Free" Money for I-69
The Association of Monroe County Taxpayers today joined with other members of the I-69 Truth Squad to release a new fact sheet on the I-69 debate. Today's alert tags INDOT for perpetuating the fallacy that the federal government's 80% cost-share for the highway is "free money."
The alert points out that Hoosiers pay a federal tax on every gallon of gas, and the U.S. government simply returns most of that money to Indiana each year. But Indiana receives the same amount of money regardless of the number of projects on INDOT's wish list. That means that every dollar spent on I-69 means one less dollar for other deserving projects around the state.
I-69 is by far INDOT's largest single new highway project. It would divert hundreds of millions of dollars of limited federal money from other transportation projects across the state that collectively would improve safety and boost the economy far more than a single pork barrel project.
"The Truth Squad is exactly the kind of reality check that Hoosier taxpayers need to make informed decisions, " said Greg Travis, director of the Association of Monroe County Taxpayers. "It's a great counter to the big-business spin coming out of Indianapolis and Washington."
"Welcome to the no-spin zone," Travis continued. "The federal government isn't going to pay a dime for I-69. For the next thirty years Hoosiers would pay for all of the highway, and then some, every time we fill up."
The new Truth Squad alert also cites on op-ed penned last October by State Senator Lawrence Borst, chair of the Senate Finance Committee. Borst said: "...there is no federal categorical funding for such projects [as I-69] ...INDOT could probably qualify much of its existing federal road funding for I-69...That would only draw federal funds away from other projects."
The groups releasing the alert today, which also include Hoosier Environmental Council and Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads, have become increasingly concerned with statements by INDOT Commissioner Bryan Nicol that imply that the state only needs to fund 20% of I-69's costs. These statements, referring to an 80/20 split for so-called "federal-aid" projects, are often repeated by other sources. INDOT rarely explains that Indiana's limited federal budget is the source of the 80% federal share.
"The misconception that there is 'free' federal money out there for I-69 is a myth," said Andy Knott, air and energy policy director for the Hoosier Environmental Council. "There is no federal pot of gold for I-69."
"Remember that old consumer warning: 'If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,'" said Tom Tokarski, president of Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads. "When someone says they're going to pick up 80% of the bill you better get that in writing, especially when the bill is $2 billion. Nowhere has the federal government written that they are going to give Indiana one billion six hundred million dollars for I-69. Let the taxpayer-buyer beware."
Founded in 2000, the Association of Monroe County Taxpayers (AMCT) acts as a tax watchdog for the citizens of Monroe County, Indiana. The association recognizes that corporate welfare, not social welfare, is the largest single cause of unnecessary taxpayer burden. Through education, information, and resources AMCT works to keep hard-earned Hoosier dollars in Hoosier pockets. For more information about AMCT, go to: www.assmotax.org
The groups releasing today's Truth Squad alert support the I-70/US 41 route for I-69, which would use existing and upgraded highways and cost half as much as the nearly $2 billion new-terrain route. That route would be only 13 minutes longer in travel time and would avoid the destruction of thousands of acres of farm and forest land, while helping - not hurting - the already economically struggling counties along US 41. For more information, and to view previous editions of the Truth Squad alerts, visit www.commonsensi69.org.