LA state leaders pushing for gas tax hike to fix roads and bridges

Taxation committee discusses reasons for a potential fuel tax increase
Taxation committee discusses reasons for a potential fuel tax increase(KFYR)
Published: Feb. 9, 2021 at 5:37 PM CST
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Louisiana drivers currently pay 38.4 cents a gallon at the pump, but a group led by state Rep. Jack McFarland wants to change that.

In a meeting led by former state Rep. Erich Ponti with organizations from all across Monroe, Ponti says the push is to gradually raise the state’s gas tax by an additional 22 cents per gallon.

As Executive Director of the Louisiana Asphalt Pavement Association, Ponti believes an increased gas tax of about $660 million dollars annually would provide the state with much needed funding for highway and bridge repairs.

“In Louisiana we have over 39,000 lane miles. 16,000 almost 17,000 miles of highway but lane miles where you would you travel,” Ponti stated. “We have one of the highest road systems not to mention bridges in the entire country.”

The proposed tax increase would, if implemented, initially raise the tax by 10 cents per gallon and over time, to 22 cents.

In addition to this, the bill would designate 60% of the money for highway and bridge preservation and 40% for new projects.

“There’s a language that will be in the bill that stipulates a road bridge program and make sure that rural registered address is not forgotten so these dollars will go to it whether it’s overlay whether it’s bridges or whatever, but we have to preserve what we have,” Ponti said.

If passed, it would also require the Louisiana legislative auditor to evaluate DOTD’s effectiveness and competence before making recommendations for savings.

Ponti says we must act now to protect future generations.

“The roads are getting so much more in disrepair and dangerous that we have an increased number of deaths due to poor condition of our roadways. And that is a statistic that just cannot continue to grow,” Ponti said.

Lawmakers shot down versions of his plan in 2017 and 2019, but he hopes this one can avoid any further bumps in the road.

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