Is Steve Carter A Sucker? Can He Be Cleaned Out At The Card Table?

We’re asking, because one might come to that impression based on the bill he’s considering filing for the upcoming legislative session.

A Baton Rouge lawmaker and others are preparing legislation to increase the state’s gasoline tax by up to 17 cents per gallon, which would raise more than $500 million annually for roads and bridges.

“We have to do something,” state Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge said in an interview Wednesday.

In addition, an ally of Gov. John Bel Edwards said he is considering a measure for a gas tax hike that, if approved by the Legislature, would have to be endorsed by voters to take effect.

The governor expressed interest in just such an idea in January.

Carter said he is conferring with a Baton Rouge area transportation advocacy group called CRISIS, and members of the Baton Rouge area legislative delegation, to draft legislation for the 2017 regular session, which begins April 10.

“I don’t know who is going to file it,” he said.

The proposal, even though it is still being crafted, marks the first time that a state lawmaker has attached his name to a specific gasoline tax increase.

Each penny hike in the state’s gasoline tax raises about $30 million per year.

“It is probably going to be 15, 16, 17 (cents),” Carter said.

He said he especially wants road and bridge relief for the Baton Rouge area, which Gov. John Bel Edwards has said is in dire need of relief.

“There is no place in the state that has a greater need than Baton Rouge,” the governor  said on Jan. 11.

The Capitol City has become the site of near daily traffic gridlock, especially near the “new” Mississippi River bridge.

Scott Kirkpatrick, executive director of CRISIS, said his group is in talks with lawmakers and others statewide.

Let’s understand the reality of this tax and where the money is going to go.

Edwards is running around saying that his $29.7 billion state budget is short of funding by some $400 million. A year from now when Edwards’ sales tax hike is set to expire (it’s not going away, as all of our readers know, because there are nowhere near enough principled votes in the legislature to kill its renewal), it’ll be short by an additional billion or billion and a half.

If you think that $450-500 million in tax revenue Carter and his pals are cooking up will go toward building a new bridge over the Mississippi, or to build a road somewhere, you’re a sucker. You’re the person everybody wants at the neighborhood poker game, because taking your money is easy.

Those tax dollars will get poured into the ravenous maw of Louisiana’s $30 billion leviathan state. And that money won’t even balance Louisiana’s budget – because Edwards will find more things to spend money on as soon as the prospect of additional revenue materializes.

And Steve Carter knows this. He’s perfectly well aware of it. But what Steve Carter also knows is if he isn’t seen trying to do something about Baton Rouge’s atrocious roads or make an attempt to get a new bridge over the Mississippi, then someone will run against him and say that he hasn’t solved the problems he ran on solving.

So he’ll bring that bill. And it’ll probably pass. And Edwards will steal the money and pour it into the general fund to prop up his bloated government.

Oh, but there’s more. Edwards will take a little chunk and hold it back. He’ll hold it back so that he can tell Steve Carter and all the other state reps prepared to vote against bills he wants passed that either they come across, or they get no roads in their district. In short, he’ll bribe them with their own money.

Here’s a better solution than this stupid gas tax. Bring a different bill, which allows local governments to raise their own gas taxes for the purpose of building and maintaining their own roads without the state’s input. Why on earth should taxpayers in Ascension Parish, or St. Tammany, or even East Baton Rouge, have their gas taxes essentially doubled so the money goes into the state treasury to be spent as a governor sees fit to negotiate? And this is assuming that money honestly goes to pay for transportation infrastructure, which we know will not happen.

Why do we know this?

Because Garret Graves, Baton Rouge’s congressman, has done the research on it, and you won’t like what he found out.

Graves emphasized that the state needs more money for transportation, especially in the Baton Rouge area.

“This region is going to demand all the dollars,” he said. “This area has the most traffic (troubles) by far.”

But Graves, while complimentary of state Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson, said only 11 percent of Transportation Trust Fund dollars – a key source of road and bridge aid – is used for projects.

He said state transportation problems stem from years of a “politicized process” on where and what  work was done.

Remember that when the governor, and some of the suckers carrying water for his tax hikes in the legislature, tell you that these monies will go into the Transportation Trust Fund to increase road infrastructure.

This is a scam. Carter needs to demand that if it’s going to bear his imprimatur that his constituents actually get what they’re paying for. Be assured that Edwards has zero interest in fulfilling that promise unless he’s forced to.

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