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    Indiana Gas Tax Hike

    Lawmakers may seek another increase in January.

    INDIANAPOLIS -- When Indiana lawmakers convene in January they can expect another push for an increase in the state gasoline tax.

    "We think the crisis is certainly there and the long-term need is still there," said Dennis Faulkenberg, a lobbyist for the Build Indiana Council, a highway contractors trade group. Some lawmakers agreed. They plan to promote an additional gas tax increase, even though a 3-cent increase approved during the recent special session will have just taken effect Jan. 1, the Associated Press reported.

    The odds for success could be stacked against them. Senate Finance Chairman Larry Borst (R-Greenwood) said the tax increases passed in June will make it "pretty hard to consider any tax increases in 2003."

    And although state officials testified in favor of bigger increases earlier this year, the Indiana Department of Transportation plans no formal push for another increase during the next session. Transportation Commissioner Bryan Nicol said there will "still be needs that need to be met beyond that gas tax increase." He also questioned the wisdom of the group seeking another increase so soon.

    "On Jan. 1, the gas tax goes into effect. You turn around two weeks later and ask for {another} gas tax increase when you haven't even received a penny of it?" Nicol said. "I think the locals may approach it a little differently because they expect it a little bit more, and they have needs that are going unmet."

    The increase that takes effect next year will raise the tax from 15 cents to 18 cents per gallon, with each penny generating an estimated $33 million in revenue.

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