Lawmakers want to increase fuel tax to fund road improvements

Lawmakers want to increase fuel tax to fund road improvements
(Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - You know the drill. A pothole opens up on a heavily traveled road, traffic backs up, and your commute takes way longer than usual.

Baton Rouge State Rep. Steve Carter aims to fix this headache through House Bill 542. The bill would raise the gas tax, move existing funds from the existing gas tax, and increase fees on hybrid and electric vehicles to fund the repairs needed on Louisiana roadways.

Lawmakers hoping to provide solution for road construction headaches by raising gas tax

Under the existing fuel tax, drivers pay 20 cents per gallon. Under the proposed legislation, that would go up six cents in 2019 and then an additional two cents every two years after that until 2031, meaning drivers would be paying 38 cents per gallon of gas.

It would also move eight cents of the existing gas tax from DOTD funds to a secured “lock box,” which would go directly toward road improvements.

"Sixty percent of these funds will go to our existing because one of the big concerns across the board is all of the big projects are going to get the money. No, not going to happen. It’s going to be fair and equitable,” said Erich Ponti, president of the Louisiana Coalition to Fix Our Roads.

Erich Ponti, president of the Louisiana Coalition to Fix Our Roads
Erich Ponti, president of the Louisiana Coalition to Fix Our Roads (Source: WAFB)

According to the plan, the remaining 40 percent would go toward large infrastructure projects such as building a new bridge across the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge.

The plan will also include a $300 fee on electric vehicles and a $200 fee for hybrids, which owners would pay when registering the car and every year during renewal. That fee is estimated to be similar to what owners of regular vehicles would pay in fuel taxes.

"It’s just another tax increase on the Louisiana people,” said John Kay, state director for Americans for Prosperity.

Kay says he believes leaders need to find another way to fund improvement.

“Should look at public/private partnerships as a pathway forward rather than continuing to raise our taxes, as well as to clean up how the gas tax money is currently being spent,” he said. “It’s refreshing that it’s no longer sent to the state police for their salaries, but it is still spent on salaries and benefits at DOTD and I see that as a problem.”

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