- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 17, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Latest on Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s State of the State speech (all times local):

8:35 p.m.

Republican legislative leaders say Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb began the work of making the case for raising more money to pay for highway projects.

House Speaker Brian Bosma says lawmakers will work with the new Republican governor on a funding plan in the coming months. Bosma says he’s confident Holcomb will support a plan even though the governor avoided saying during Tuesday’s State of the State speech that he would back a tax increase.

Republicans who dominated the Legislature have proposed increasing the gas tax by 10 cents-a-gallon and adding $15 to the annual vehicle registration fee.

Bosma says GOP lawmakers don’t need Holcomb’s support as political cover and that they’re showing political courage.

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8:15 p.m.

Indiana Democratic leaders say they’re disappointed that Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb isn’t taking charge of the GOP’s proposed gasoline tax increase.

Holcomb said during Tuesday night’s State of the State speech that drivers should be willing to invest more toward a boost in highway funding, but never uttered the word “tax.”

Top Democratic lawmakers say the gasoline tax increase would fall unfairly on working- and middle-class residents. Senate Democratic leader Tim Lanane (LAN’-in) of Anderson criticized the plan for coming while more Republican-backed corporate tax cuts are set to take effect.

Legislative Republicans have proposed increasing that tax by 10 cents-a-gallon and adding $15 to the annual vehicle registration fee.

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7:25 p.m.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb praised a county health department nurse’s work in running a needle-exchange program while calling in his State of the State speech for more action to fight drug abuse.

Holcomb introduced Fayette County nurse Paula Maupin during Tuesday night’s speech as one of the state’s heroes saving lives each day. Fayette is among nine counties around the state with such programs aimed at curbing the spread of HIV and hepatitis C among intravenous drug users.

Holcomb told legislators that the drug epidemic has had devastating impacts on families and communities. He says the state will give counties more authority to start programs providing clean syringes.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence was reluctant to support starting the needle exchanges when he was governor.

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7 p.m.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb says motorists should be willing to invest a little more in order to boost funding for the state’s highways.

The new Republican governor avoids using his first State of the State speech Tuesday night to directly support proposed gasoline tax increases.

But Holcomb says the extra tax money will be a worthwhile investment for the state’s communities and economy.

Holcomb has previously said he supports increasing the state’s 18-cents-a-gallon gas tax. Legislative Republicans have proposed increasing that tax by 10 cents-a-gallon and adding $15 to the annual vehicle registration fee.

The Legislature’s badly outnumbered Democrats question why a gasoline tax hike is needed while the state continues to cut taxes for corporations.

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1 a.m.

New Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is expected to call for a long-term infrastructure plan that will likely include a tax increase during his first State of the State speech.

The Tuesday night address will mark the first time the Republican has spoken before a joint audience of both the Indiana Senate and House.

Holcomb aides say the governor will highlight the need to pass a long-term road funding plan. Any proposal that passes the Legislature will likely include an increase to the state’s 18-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax.

Holcomb supports hiking the gas tax, but he hasn’t said how much of an increase he would like. The governor has also said that “all options are on the table” as lawmakers craft a plan.

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