Gas tax increases under discussion in Louisiana

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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Louisiana state lawmakers are expected to consider soon, a bill that could raise the tax on a gallon of gas to $.38 over the course of 12 years. Proponents of the measure say the money will be placed in a so-called lockbox to guarantee road repairs. But many drivers say they’re paying enough.

Gas prices are on the rise in Lousiana, and talk of raising fuel taxes isn't going over well.

"I don't think it's cool, it's already high," said New Orleans driver Axel Gutierrez.

State representative Steve Carter (R-BR) proposed a bill that would raise gas taxes in increments, to provide a $1 billion annual fund for specific road projects across the state, and supporters say it would provide some needed money for ongoing repairs.

"It will go to preservation and maintenance of existing system, and 40% goes to capacity projects, like I-20 in Shreveport bridge in Lake Charles, and in Baton Rouge, I-49 to New Orleans and port access in New Orleans as well," said Erich Ponti, with the group,' Louisiana Coalition to Fix our Roads'.

The bill would raise the gas tax, which is currently at $.20 per gallon, by $.06 a gallon in the first year. Ultimately the increase would be $.18 a gallon raising the overall gas tax to $.38 a gallon by 2031.

"It's been over 30 years, this year alone, DOTD has had to close 18 bridges. Our roads, and bridges are falling apart," said Ponti.

The tax wouldn't just affect gas, it would also affect owners of hybrid or electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt.'

The bill calls for annual fees on electric vehicles of $300 a year, and $200 a year on hybrids.

GNO Inc is supporting the increase. It says Louisiana currently ranks 43rd in the nation for state gas taxes. It also says Louisiana has the 7th highest percentage of structurally deficient bridges, and the new money would provide badly needed funding for repairs.

" It's critical. we reinvest, we're still paying for projects out of a 1980's checkbook," said Ponti.

Fox 8 political analyst Mike Sherman says the measure may have a tough time passing since many lawmakers are up for re-election.

Carter's bill also calls for the tax on diesel to increase by 12 cents a gallon by 2031.

The bill has been assigned to the house ways and means committee.