Chamber shows support for La. gas tax increase with new analysis

State News
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WVLA) – (4/26/19) The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) Thursday released an analysis of gas tax increases in states that voted for President Trump in 2016.

Nineteen of these states have raised their gas taxes between $0.03 and $0.19 per gallon since 2015, and four more are currently considering increases between $0.08 and $0.45 per gallon.

BRAC is highlighting this activity as part of its support for Rep. Steve Carter’s bill that would raise Louisiana’s gas tax, currently $0.20 per gallon, by $0.18 over twelve years.

“This map is eye-opening. We are allowing Louisiana to fall behind on economic development by not investing in our infrastructure. The Baton Rouge Area business community is asking for action,” said Randy Cangelosi, chair of BRAC’s Board of Directors and partner at Kean Miller. “If not now, when will elected officials think is the right moment for Louisiana to compete? We are asking Louisiana’s leaders to learn what other conservative states know: that infrastructure development is economic development.”

“Louisiana’s roads are consistently ranked among the worst in the nation. In 2019, DOTD closed 19 bridges because of structural deficiency,” said Liz Smith, BRAC’s senior vice president for economic competitiveness. “Conservatives don’t like taxes, but red states across the country are endorsing gas tax increases, figuring out ways to ensure the money is protected and used correctly, and keeping their economies growing. It’s time for Louisiana to join them.” 

Several key details of Rep. Carter’s HB 542 appeal directly to conservative lawmakers:

  • The new dollars can only be used for transportation construction, and are locked in a dedicated fund that was approved statewide by Louisiana voters in 2017
  • The increased tax is phased in slowly over several years
  • Over the first five years, the legislation forces DOTD to seek money for retirement and healthcare benefits from the general fund and puts the dollars currently used for salaries toward construction
  • Current and future modes of passenger and commercial vehicles (such as electric) are all included in the increase
  • The legislation names seven critical infrastructure projects across the state that must be built with the new funds, including a new bridge and bypass crossing the Mississippi River in the Capital Region

Louisiana’s gas tax hasn’t been increased since the 1980s.

Using the Consumer Price Index to estimate, the value of $1 dollar in 2018 was worth $0.49 cents in 1989.

The basis of Louisiana’s transportation revenue hasn’t changed since then.

But in that time, motor vehicles have become much more fuel efficient, meaning less gas is being bought and the average visit to the gas pump today generates less transportation funding for Louisiana roads than it did in the 1980s.

The double-whammy of inflation and fuel efficiency means Louisiana has less money for transportation infrastructure every year that the state fails to act. 

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