Group pays gas tax for 100 drivers to educate them on proposed hike

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The conservative advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, is protesting the Louisiana Legislature's proposed gas tax increase by hosting what members are calling "Axe the Tax."

The group camped out Tuesday morning at Rende's Quick Stop in Baton Rouge and got the owner of the gas station to drop his price to $1.61 per gallon. The group then paid the gas tax for the first 100 vehicles that arrived at the store to have their tanks filled.

The plan was to educate customers about the tax and have them call their legislators to vote against the measure.

"Over the past year, Louisiana has had taxes raised on it more than any other state in the entire nation," said John Kay, Louisiana director of Americans for Prosperity. "Not to mention, we're in a job recession and losing wages in the state of Louisiana. We can't afford another tax increase and this is a big one that would affect everyone in the state of Louisiana and it's important that we push back on that."

"It can become very expensive for anyone going to work, transporting kids," added Tracy Jackson, who received her gas tax free. "So, I appreciate them out here and if you can call your legislator or whoever, you need to call because what you don't know, you're paying higher for gas every day."

Lawmakers originally wanted to raise the tax by 17 cents on the gallon. Facing pushback, they are planning to amend it down to just 10 cents per gallon.

Supporters say the money is critically needed to fund road projects, like repairs to the current bridges or a new bridge in Baton Rouge to cross the Mississippi River, that the state currently cannot afford.

"I appreciate what they're doing - focusing the conversation on taxes," said Dr. Shawn Wilson, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD). "Unfortunately, what I think they did is they missed the boat is that the gas tax does not impact any of the other parts of the budget. And, the other parts impacts nothing with infrastructure. We're one of the few states that gets zero dollars from the sales tax or other parts of the budget. So, while Texas is paying 20 cents and we're paying 20 cents, over 25 percent of my budget is devoted to debt services 'til 2045 and Texas is also sending additional money to transportation, as opposed to transportation sending more money to general fund obligations."

The bill is set for a vote Wednesday on the House floor.

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