A new voice of authority joined the chorus espousing the inevitable need of Indiana's crumbling road infrastructure.

Now it’s time for all state leaders and taxpayers to listen.

On Monday, the Funding Indiana's Roads for a Stronger, Safer Tomorrow, or FIRSST, Task Force voted 10-1 in recommending 12 revenue-increasing options aimed at long-term state road funding. The task force is charged by the Legislature with identifying Indiana's long-term infrastructure needs and developing a funding plan to meet them.

The Monday vote was all part of an effort to determine a sustainable fix to Indiana's road and bridge repair and maintenance needs.

State transportation officials say those needs come with a starting price tag of $1 billion.

Count the FIRSST folks among a growing number of leaders who are realizing new tax revenue — and the politically painful reality of tax increases — will be needed to get the job done.

We don't take tax increases lightly. Hard-working Hoosiers deserve to know their tax money is being spent in the most effective way.

But we can think of few greater needs to the future and well-being of our state, its residents and its economy than a safe and functional transportation infrastructure.

Such a network of modernized and well kept roads doesn't come free or cheap, and it's not a place to cut corners.

For far too long, our state has pushed off a long-term, sustainable funding fix for road repair and maintenance. It happened as recently as the 2016 legislative session when a long-term fix passed the Indiana House but failed to gain enough traction to become law.

Lawmakers throughout the state — but particularly GOP leaders of the General Assembly — are beginning to show an understanding and will that tax revenues must be realized to fix this problem.

Sensible proposals for adjusting gas and other road-revenue related taxes for inflation is an important first step.

Plenty of folks will balk at any mention of raising taxes. Those same people must ask themselves how their livelihoods would be jeopardized by a state transportation network that crumbles beyond the ability to move people or commerce.

As the number of voices begin to grow preaching the need for new tax revenues to fix one of state government's most vital services, we can only hope enough lawmakers and other officials are listening.

If not in 2017, then when?

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