Louisiana’s roads suck. We have known this for decades, but now there is growing desire to fix them. Well at least to raise more money in the name of fixing them.
Right now, Governor John Bel Edwards plans on calling for a 23 cent gas tax hike. The current gas tax in the state is 20 cents. The Edwards administration points out that the gas tax has not been raised since 1989 and that inflation has eaten away at the purchasing power of those 20 cents.
But House Transportation Committee Chairman Kenny Havard (R-St. Francisville) balked at raising the gas tax in a recent interview with the trucking trade publication Transport Topics. But he also wants some additional revenue for roads.
From Transport Topics:
Rep. Kenny Havard, the chairman of Louisiana’s House Transportation Committee, will have a big voice in how much, if any, new money Wilson gets.
“I commend the Governor and Secretary Wilson for talking about the issue,” Havard told Transport Topics. “Before, no one really wanted to talk about it. We’re hearing the truth. We know what the numbers are. We have a 20-cent gas tax now. To ask people to pay another 23 cents is a stretch. In Louisiana, we have a trust issue because for the last 20 years we haven’t used our transportation dollars only for transportation. People just don’t trust that we’ll put the money where we say it’s going. The need is tremendous, but we need other options other than just a [fuel] tax [hike]. I’ve asked my staff to look at a gross receipts tax on every gallon that’s produced at refineries.”
Havard wants to tax the man behind the tree in the time-honored Louisiana tradition. But Louisiana drivers who would pay higher gasoline prices in the long-run because those refineries have to recover the increased costs of the gross receipts tax. Plus, refineries can decide to start shifting operations to other states which would cost Louisiana workers their jobs.
Havard’s idea is a silly one that will do economic damage to Louisiana if it is enacted.
If the state wants to raise revenue for roads, a gas tax increase is probably the better way to go. What the Legislature should do is decrease other taxes by the same amount they want to raise through a higher gas tax so it won’t harm Louisiana families too much.