I-69 budget issue for Gov. Daniels - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

I-69 budget issue for Gov. Daniels

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By Gretchen Ross - bio | email | Twitter
Posted by Sarah Harlan - email

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Balancing the budget and building Interstate 69 are two big issues facing Governor Daniels and the state.

Governor Mitch Daniels spoke to hundreds of local business leaders Monday at the Southwest Indiana's Chamber of Commerce luncheon.  

After the general assembly failed to pass a budget for the next two years last month, Governor Daniels called all state lawmakers back to Indianapolis in a few weeks to close what he calls a billion dollar gap.

While Daniels wants to tighten the belt, he vows there are three areas that won't see a cut.

"We want the least impact on education, public safety and child protection," Daniels said.

Governor Daniels said in order to protect those three areas and avoid a tax hike, he wants to sit back down with lawmakers next month to trim the $28 billion spending plan proposed by the general assembly.

"The most impact will come from my office, from the less important agencies in state government that we have already taken significant amounts from those departments," Daniels said. "We will go there again."

Not only did the governor talk about the upcoming legislative session and the need to balance the budget, he also highlighted the future of the I-69 road project.

"Our goal, and we are seeing positive signs, is to minimize both the cost, the environmental impact of the road as it's built, and the time it takes to get it there," Daniels said.

Despite Indot saying the new price tag for the project doubled from $1.7-billion to $3 billion due to inflation, Governor Daniels thinks there are ways to lower the cost.

"Could the medians be narrower?," Daniels said. "Could the pavement, at least for the first few years of the road's life, not be so thick and therefore not be so expensive and maybe we could add interchanges later, maybe we don't need them all at the beginning."

One Evansville business owner understands the rising costs of supplies, but is concerned about seeing the project completed.

"We need to address the spending going forward and how we are going to fund the northern portions of I-69 and the bridge," Jeff Mulzer with Mulzer Crushstone said.

Daniels plans to propose a budget on June 1 and meet with a few legislators from both the House and the Senate to agree on the terms before calling the full assembly back on June 15.

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