Faith Leaders Call for Mass Transit Funding Vote

February 7, 2013 |WTHR 13 | Link to Article

13 WTHR Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS -The faith community is calling on state lawmakers to let voters decide on the future of mass transit. The clergy held a prayer rally at the Indiana Statehouse Thursday morning in support of the effort.

A House committee has passed a bill that could bring additional bus and rail service to Indianapolis. This could eventually lead to a referendum in Marion and Hamilton Counties on building an enhanced mass transit system.

"We want to unite our city, our neighborhoods and our people to overcome isolation and intolerance. Why are we here? We are here to create opportunities for the well-being of all, especially those who are poor and the most vulnerable. Why are we here? We want to transform ourselves, our communities and our systems," said Re. Carey Grady, Bethel AME Church.

The faith leaders represent congregations that add up to 30,000 people in Marion and Hamilton Counties. They say expanding mass transit would create jobs, expand opportunities and help keep families connected.

The group made their call amid an ad campaign supporting better mass transit options for central Indiana, and as an Indiana House of Representatives committee considers House Bill 1011, which seeks a public referendum for voters to decide on how to fund mass transit in central Indiana.

Indy Connect Now, a coalition of community leaders and others, launched an ad campaign this year in support of better mass transit options, but funding a plan is the big question. The group says over 7,800 Hoosiers have signed a petition asking lawmakers to authorize the referendum.

Indy Connect rolled out a proposal for a central Indiana transit system last month. See the plan here.

The "red line" route would run from Greenwood through Indianapolis to Carmel. The plan calls for "rapid transit" but leaves it open for bus or rail.

The "purple line" would run from Lafayette Square to Lawrence, mostly along 38th Street.

The "orange line" would run from Carmel to the University of Indianapolis via Fountain Square.

The "blue line" would run from the airport through Indianapolis out to Cumberland, and the "green line" would run from downtown Indianapolis northeast to Noblesville via Castleton Square.

Full text of House Bill 1011:

Public mass transportation. Specifies that a county or city council (other than the city-county council of Marion County) may elect by ordinance to provide revenue to a public transportation corporation from the city's or the county's distributive share of county adjusted gross income taxes, county option income taxes, or county economic development income taxes. Authorizes the establishment of a metropolitan transit district by specified eligible counties through local public questions and provides for an appointed board to govern the metropolitan transit district. Authorizes the metropolitan transit district to:

(1) construct or acquire any public transportation facility;

(2) provide public transportation service by operating public transportation facilities; and

(3) issue bonds and otherwise incur indebtedness. Authorizes the Indiana finance authority to issue bonds and use the proceeds to acquire any obligations issued by a metropolitan transit district.

Provides that in a county that has approved the local public question, an additional county economic development income tax (CEDIT) rate of not more than 0.3% may be imposed to pay the county's contribution to the funding of the metropolitan transit district. Specifies that the CEDIT rate may not exceed the recommended tax.