Gov. Pence signs mass transit bill

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Gov. Mike Pence has signed a mass transit bill for central Indiana.

"I have signed SEA 176 into law to give the people of Central Indiana the opportunity to decide on the future of mass transit in the greater Indianapolis area," Gov. Pence said.

The bill allows six central Indiana counties to decide by referendum if they want to use tax money to raise money to pay for it.

The governor also said,"Our capital city is a world class destination and needs a world class transit system. While I still have reservations about the sustainability of expanded mass transit services, I signed this bill because the General Assembly made significant improvements during the legislative process, bringing to closure years of debate on this issue. The final version contains no new, local corporate tax, which would have reduced our state's overall competitiveness, and it contains no light rail, which would have greatly increased the cost to taxpayers in the long term."

He added: "I am a firm believer in local control and the collective wisdom of the people of Indiana. Decisions on economic development and quality of life are best made at the local level. Whether local business tax reform or mass transit, I trust local leaders and residents to make the right decisions for their communities. That, along with the improvements made to the bill, is why I have signed SEA 176 into law. Now the people of Central Indiana can decide."

"This marks a significant step forward for the growth of Indy and the rest of Central Indiana. I want to thank Governor Pence and members of the General Assembly who have worked on this issue over the course of the last few years. Today is a day for Indy to celebrate but not the day to declare victory. There is still much work to be done," said Mayor Greg Ballard.

Last year, Tea Party activists came out against a bill which would have authorized Hamilton and Marion counties to hold voter referendums on whether to raise local income taxes to pay for most of the local portion of the proposed $1.3 billion proposal to expand bus service and possibly add a commuter rail line.

Indy Connect Now, a coalition of community leaders and others, launched an ad campaign in support of that bill. Funding was the big issue.