INDIANAPOLIS | Gentlemen, start your bailout.
The Indiana Senate voted 37-12 on Tuesday to wave the green flag on a plan to transfer up to $100 million in state tax revenue over the next 20 years to the privately owned Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Senate Bill 91, which goes to the House, creates a "motorsports improvement district" containing the race track and adjacent properties. Up to $5 million a year in sales and income tax revenue generated within the district would be diverted from the state's general fund and given to the facility for improvements.
The speedway's spending plan includes $30 million in facility upgrades, $20 million for grounds, $20 million for lighting, $15 million for video screens and $10 million for information boards.
State Sen. Mike Young, R-Speedway, the sponsor of the legislation, emphatically denied the state is bailing out an outdated facility where race attendance is sagging.
"The speedway is not in trouble. They don't need any state help to continue for another 110 years or so," Young said. "But they do have a project that they can't complete, and they have asked the state to be their partners on this."
State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, and state Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, were the only region lawmakers to vote against the proposal.
Randolph said it's not fair state revenue is constantly being spent to improve the Indianapolis area.
"Northwest Indiana has some resources, too," Randolph said. "Why can't we get support from other legislators, particularly from Marion County, supporting some projects that we have?"
Randolph said he'd be open to legislation, similar to the speedway measure, that requires all the state sales and income tax revenue generated in Lake County be spent only in Lake County.