INDIANAPOLIS | Democrat John Gregg plans to leverage money from a trust fund created following the lease of the Indiana Toll Road to help pay for a $3.5 billion program to rebuild Indiana's roads, bridges, rails, ports and airports if he's elected governor.
Indiana created the Next Generation Trust Fund in 2006 by setting aside $500 million of the $3.8 billion the state received by leasing the Toll Road to a private operator for 75 years. While the trust fund has transferred about $100 million in interest to the state, the principal has remained untouched.
Gregg said Thursday he'd use a portion of that money to guarantee private loans that state or local governments could use to pay for infrastructure projects intended to boost economic development.
He projected a $300 million state guarantee would enable access to 10 times as much private money and help create 97,000 jobs.
"An investment in infrastructure is an investment in our future," Gregg said.
His running mate, state Sen. Vi Simpson, D-Ellettsville, said their administration also would establish a state-operated revolving loan fund to provide low-interest loans for local projects.
The $500 million Hoosier State Infrastructure Fund would be capitalized by shifting the two-year, $360 million cost of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Department of Revenue and Indiana State Police to the state's general fund from its motor vehicle highway fund. The remainder would come from the Next Generation Trust Fund.
"We're not spending those dollars, we're using them to leverage additional dollars for infrastructure," Simpson said.
The Democrats also promised to streamline state funding of local road projects, secure additional federal money for state infrastructure needs and make Northwest Indiana a hub for intermodal projects.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence has said if elected he will "appoint a blue-ribbon panel to plan the next generation of Hoosier infrastructure."