Indiana officials scramble to fund bicentennial projects

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Indiana officials are scrambling to fund several bicentennial construction projects Vice President Mike Pence initiated when he was governor.

The Indianapolis Star reports Pence sought $53.5 million in new projects last year as part of the state’s 200th birthday celebration. Skeptical lawmakers allowed Pence to spend taxpayer money on the projects after he assured them he could pay for projects by leasing space on Indiana’s 340 state-owned cell towers.

Two years after those assurances were made, the state has spent more than $5 million on the projects, but a cell tower deal hasn’t materialized.

Gov. Eric Holcomb is trying to find a way to fill the hole as he grapples with a $378 million revenue shortfall compared to what lawmakers had originally budgeted for this year.

A Pence spokesman didn’t respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.