Politics

Indiana lawmakers are returning to the Statehouse for the start of their annual legislative session.

The Senate met briefly Tuesday and both the House and Senate will convene Wednesday.

Republican leaders who command supermajorities in both chambers say they have two major priorities this year. One will be writing the state’s next two-year budget. The other is crafting a plan — and a likely tax increase — that will fund road improvements and infrastructure projects into the future.

That means residents could find themselves paying more for cigarettes, gasoline or vehicle registration to build out and repair the state’s roads, highways and bridges. It also creates an awkward situation for roughly two dozen Republicans who signed a pledge by conservative activist Grover Norquist, promising never to raise taxes.

Indiana is sitting on about $2 billion in reserves. Revenues are projected to grow 2 percent over the next two years, which could bring in an estimated $1 billion in new money.

Still, GOP leaders say they are cautious after the state collected about $300 million less than expected during the current budget cycle. They don’t want to tap the surplus, warning that a recession could be around the corner.

Incoming Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb says he will also unveil his agenda for the coming session on Friday.

Holcomb will be sworn in as governor on Monday, replacing current Gov. Mike Pence, who’s the nation’s vice president-elect.