The state’s road builders and other special interests are pushing for a gas tax and vehicle registration fee hike this year. They are pushing to raise the taxes in order to build and improve roads in Louisiana.
You know the drill. A pothole opens up on a heavily traveled road, traffic backs up, and your commute takes way longer than usual.
Baton Rouge State Rep. Steve Carter aims to fix this headache through House Bill 542. The bill would raise the gas tax, move existing funds from the existing gas tax, and increase fees on hybrid and electric vehicles to fund the repairs needed on Louisiana roadways.
Under the existing fuel tax, drivers pay 20 cents per gallon. Under the proposed legislation, that would go up six cents in 2019 and then an additional two cents every two years after that until 2031, meaning drivers would be paying 38 cents per gallon of gas.
It would also move eight cents of the existing gas tax from DOTD funds to a secured “lock box,” which would go directly toward road improvements.
State Rep. Steve Carter has filed House Bill 542 to raise your taxes. If Carter gets his way, you will be paying a total excise tax of 56.4 cents on every gallon of gas you buy. By the way, Carter is running for the Louisiana State Senate this year.
If you own a hybrid or electric vehicle, you need to really pay attention. Carter wants to impose a $300 registration fee on electric vehicles and a $200 registration fee on hybrid vehicles. That registration fee would be due every time you renew your registration. This bill would punish those drivers who are trying to help the environment.
Who are the special interests that want this gas tax increase? It is a coalition of government contractors that call themselves the Louisiana Coalition To Fix Our Roads and it’s led by former State Rep Erich Ponti.
These special interests plan on lobbying at the State Capitol on April 23. They’re also planning a long-term battle to “educate” Louisiana voters about the need to raise gas taxes.
The gas tax is not the only tax these guys want to raise. They’re also going to push a “temporary” increase in the sales tax of 0.45% with some of the proceeds going to roads.
But there is a better way to fix and improve Louisiana’s roads without raising the gas tax. The Pelican Institute last month suggested using public-private partnerships as a way to fix our state’s transportation issues. It also suggested reforms such as devolving local roads to the parish and local government level. Finally, we should look at ways to reform DOTD and allocate more existing gas tax money to road maintenance. State Rep. Mark Wright (R-Covington) has House Bill 313 which would forbid DOTD from using gas tax money to pay salaries and benefits.
Louisiana’s roads and transportation infrastructure are in terrible shape, but raising gas taxes on hard-working Louisiana families is not the solution. Instead, we need to be more creative and embrace market-based solutions instead of rewarding special interests.
Editor’s note: Post edited to add Mark Wright’s bill in the story