By Associated Press - Wednesday, July 5, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The top budget-writer for the Indiana Senate announced Wednesday he will retire this fall, ending a 25-year legislative career that saw him become one of the state’s most influential lawmakers.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Luke Kenley said he would retire effective Sept. 30. The 72-year-old Republican from Noblesville has had a hand in nearly all money-related matters before the Legislature since he took over the committee leadership in 2009.

“During my final session, we achieved two major goals - passing another strong balanced budget and developing a long-term road funding plan for Indiana,” Kenley said in a statement. “It’s now time for others to have the opportunity to serve Hamilton County and our great state.”

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said few people have Kenley’s understanding of the state’s finances.

“He has been an essential state-budget architect for years and years, and he is widely respected for both his expertise and his no-nonsense approach to lawmaking,” Holcomb said.

Kenley was a key negotiator during this year’s legislative session on the Republican-backed plan to raise fuel taxes by 10 cents a gallon in order to boost state and local road funding, but he helped block a House GOP proposal for a $1 per-pack hike in the state’s cigarette tax.

Kenley overcame a GOP primary challenge last year against an opponent who argued he hadn’t done enough to increase funding for schools and road projects in the fast-growing suburban area north of Indianapolis.

Kenley easily won the November election to his seventh Senate term from the heavily Republican district. A caucus of local GOP committee members will select someone to complete his term, which runs until 2020. The next legislative session begins in January.

Senate leaders didn’t immediately name a new appropriations committee chairman.

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