Fuel Facility at Gary Airport Included in Governor’s Budget Proposal

Jan. 6, 2023
House Bill 1001 appropriates $9.8 million during the 2024 budget year for infrastructure improvement at the airport. The money would go toward constructing an on-site fuel distribution facility designed to boost the airport's cargo sector and GA flights.

Jan. 6—GARY — A long-sought improvement to the Gary/Chicago International Airport could become reality this year if the Indiana General Assembly endorses a key component of Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb's two-year budget proposal.

House Bill 1001, set to be filed shortly after the Republican-controlled Legislature convenes its annual session Monday, appropriates $9.8 million during the 2024 budget year, which begins July 1, for an infrastructure improvement at the airport.

Specifically, the money would go toward constructing an on-site fuel distribution facility in an effort to boost the airport's cargo services and general aviation flights.

The Gary airport already offers fliers one of the lowest fuel costs in the Chicago area. But officials said lacking an on-site fuel distribution facility impedes the airport's long-term prospects because jet fuel will need to continue being trucked in to the airport.

In contrast, the proposed facility will enable the Gary airport to tap into the national "Jet A" fuel network, leading to better pricing and increased demand for aircraft to refuel at Gary.

"Having an on-site fuel distribution facility is critical to the long-term competitive advantage of the airport, and we are grateful to Governor Holcomb for including this important distribution facility in his budget," said Dan Vicari, airport executive director.

"Eliminating the need to truck jet fuel to the Gary/Chicago International Airport reduces our exposure to market fluctuations while also providing the airport with enhanced capacity to handle additional operations as we continue to mature our offerings."

Gary Mayor Jerome Prince and state Sen. Eddie Melton, D- Gary, a candidate for Gary mayor, thanked the governor for including money for Gary airport improvements in his biennial spending plan.

They pledged to work with the bipartisan Northwest Indiana legislative delegation to ensure that the appropriation remains in the budget as it moves through the legislative process over the next four months.

Holcomb's budget also contains an $800 million supplemental appropriation for the complete reconstruction of the Westville Correctional Facility in LaPorte County; the $400 million lawmakers approved for the project in 2021 proved to be woefully inadequate.

In addition, Holcomb is seeking $1.16 billion in new tuition support spending — the greatest dollar increase ever — to provide Indiana elementary, middle and high schools a 6% increase in per-student instructional funding in the first year of the budget, then a 2% boost in the second year.

Other major spending items in the governor's budget include eliminating student textbook fees, broader prekindergarten access, restructuring of local public health agencies, a second round of quality-of-place READI grants, expanded workforce-development programs, and incentives to lure more businesses to Indiana.

Melton, a member of the State Budget Committee, said the governor's spending plan is a good start. But he believes Indiana can afford to take bolder steps, including funding for K-12 education that exceeds the recent high levels of inflation.

"An even better budget would further increase investments in prekindergarten, child care, health care and affordable housing, all of which would improve prospects for our economy, Hoosier workers and their families," he said.


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