It’s probably the most obvious statement that’ll issue from this year’s legislative session, but here’s a quick video clip of Democrat state senator J.P. Morrell, the chairman of the Senate’s Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee, admitting what everyone at the State Capitol but the asphalt and concrete contractors knows…
That came during debate yesterday on SB 21, a bill by Sen. Barrow Peacock (R-Shreveport) which would have addressed Louisiana’s road construction issues a bit differently than the proponents of the gas tax increase would like to. Peacock’s bill would have taken the 0.45 cent sales tax increase passed by the state legislature last year and gradually moves all of that revenue into roads and bridges via the Transportation Trust Fund. SB 21 also spread some of those dedicated funds among all nine of the Department of Transportation and Development’s regional districts, which would insure every part of the state would see money for road projects rather than just the big-ticket things in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
That would be a means of prioritizing transportation infrastructure such as the Louisiana Coalition to Fund Our Roads is clamoring for.
Especially since, as Morrell notes, the gas tax is dead.
Unfortunately, so is Peacock’s bill. It died on a 5-3 party-line vote in the Revenue & Fiscal Committee yesterday, with the five Democrats – Morrell, Gerald Boudreaux of Lafayette, Troy Carter of New Orleans, Yvonne Colomb of Baton Rouge, Jay Luneau of Alexandria and Gary L. Smith Jr. of Norco – voting to kill it. The three Republicans – Dale M. Erdey of Livingston, Eddie Lambert of Prairieville and Neil Riser of Columbia – were for it.
Who else was for Peacock’s bill? Well, Associated General Contractors, the trade group paramount among the state’s roadbuilders and a major player in the Louisiana Coalition to Fund Our Roads, was in favor.
Interestingly, though, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, which is supposed to be in favor of private-sector growth, was not in favor of Peacock’s bill. That put BRAC in the same boat as the Louisiana Budget Project, which isn’t for anything like prioritization of state monies and only likes tax increases to grow government.
Here’s the entire committee hearing video. It’s worth watching the verbiage of the big-government crowd, especially when they admit defeat on their wished-for gas tax hike.
Meanwhile, today was LCFOR’s day to put on a stunt to push leges to vote for a gas tax increase. And their stunt was an uncommonly tone-deaf move…
— Julia O'Donoghue (@JSODonoghue) April 23, 2019
Yellow vests as a political symbol has been tried before, of course.
Everybody who knows about Les Gilets Jaunes in France, who have more or less started a revolution against the government of Emmanuel Macron, also knows their protest arose as a reaction to increased fuel taxes. In Louisiana the yellow vests are FOR increased fuel taxes.
It’s an indication of just how hapless the gas tax crowd has become.
Nobody in Louisiana opposes prioritizing the state’s roads and bridges. Everybody understands this is a major failing of state government and must be addressed. The disconnect here is that Louisiana’s citizenry has no faith in state government to adequately marshall resources to positively affect the situation and is therefore unwilling, generally speaking, to pour more down the same black hole so many millions have already been dispatched. Not without major reforms to how the money is spent both by DOTD and by state government as a whole.
And when a bill like SB 21 is summarily killed on a party-line vote by Democrats in the Revenue & Fiscal Affairs Committee, it’s clear those reforms aren’t coming. So neither is the gas tax – as Morrell realizes.