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Major Moves is providing major bucks for IndianaPosted Friday, June 27, 2008, at 5:21 PM
There is no doubt leasing the Indiana Toll Road to an Australian-Spanish consortium for a 75-year period was a controversial move on the part of Gov. Mitch Daniels.
Many have questioned the logic of the innovative deal that brought in an upfront cash payment of $3.8 billion.
That's a lot of dough no matter how you look at it.
A check with the Indiana State Treasurer's Web site shows me that currently as of 11:52 a.m. on Friday, investment of Major Moves money has earned the state $343,576,481.
That figure increases every second of every day around the clock.
If you don't believe me -- go to the Web site www.in.gov.tos.2280.htm. and you'll see the interest figure. Hit the refresh button and the number will increase. Hit it again, and again and again. Every time, the interest number increases and that's money in the bank for all Hoosiers.
Interest on the toll road money currently earns about $500,000 each and every day.
How would you like to get that kind of return from your personal investments?
Some have accused the governor of more or less "selling the farm" here in Hoosierland to what some would call "foreign investors."
Remember the word lease. We have not sold anything. We are leasing it for a 75-year period and pocketing the gain to be used for a variety of road projects on state highways and on local road and street projects here in Greene County.
There is also no doubt it was a wise business decision that continues to make money for this state every week, every day, every hour, every minute and every second.
A reader recently commented on our Web site about Major Moves money and wondered why in the world some of the money can't be funneled to the flood victims across the state.
Well, the legislature has placed limits on what the Major Moves bucks can be used for. Assisting with floods and disasters is not one of them.
This "new money" is for road construction and preservation projects.
In September 2005, Gov. Daniels introduced his draft Major Moves highway plan. The plan included more than 200 new construction and 200 major preservation highway projects. In addition, funds would be made available to counties for local transportation projects.
The funding is actually coming from a combination of federal and state gas tax monies and revenues from leasing the Indiana Toll Road (ITR).
If you remember, the ITR was an underperforming asset that had lost millions in three of the past five years -- including more than $16 million in fiscal year (FY) 2005.
Leasing the toll road required approval from the Indiana General Assembly.
Before the legislation was even approved, an offer came from Cintra-Maquarie, an Australian-Spanish consortium which operates more than 40 toll facilities worldwide -- including the Chicago Skyway which connects at the ITR's western end. After much debate, HB 1008 passed the House and four weeks later was approved by the Senate, largely on a party-line vote.
In late March 2006, Gov. Daniels signed the Major Moves legislation into law.
What has Major Moves done for us?
In Greene County, we have received right at $1 million from Major Moves in 2006 and 2007 and that includes distributions to the county highway department and street departments in Linton, Bloomfield, Jasonville, Switz City, Lyons, Worthington, and Newberry.
The counties and cities can use the MVH funds as prescribed by IC 8-14-1-3, which includes construction, reconstruction, and maintenance of highways, roads and bridges and the purchase or lease of highway equipment.
On our state highways in Greene County nearly $2 million in Major Moves money was used in 2006 to re-pave State Road 45 to the U.S. 231/State Road 54 junction.
Currently, a $3.7 million paving project is under way from the State Road 54/State Road 57 intersection to the town of Newberry.
In 2015, three more Major Moves projects are planned by INDOT:
* $954,028 to pave .63 miles of U.S. 231 from State Road 54 east junction 1.17 miles north of State Road 54.
* $685,883 to pave US 231 From E Jct SR 54 to 0.63 mi North (West) of SR 54 E Jct.
* $613,304 to pave US 231 From 0.42 mi S of SR 54 E Jct to SR 54 E Jct
So the next time somebody asks you about Mitch's Major Moves money, tell them it is being used here in Greene County every day.
And by the way, the interest earned on our Major Moves money in the bank is now $343,582,680 and counting -- a gain of $6,199 in the time it took me to write this column.
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