Baton Rouge area lawmakers and business groups are among those most heavily advocating for a hike in the gas tax, because the Capital Region is gripped by gridlock daily.
“We have not raised the gasoline tax in over 20 years, so the value of the tax that you’re paying is now worth about 7 cents, so we can’t do the things we need to do,” Rep. Steve Carter, a Baton Rouge Republican who supports raising the tax, tells The Associated Press.
Carter is among legislators seeking to raise the gas tax, as much as 15 cents or 17 cents per gallon. But he acknowledged that raising the tax will be a tough sell, needing a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate. In particular, the more conservative House, which has shown a strong anti-tax bent, is expected to be a stumbling block.
“We’ve got to do a salesman’s job within the House,” Carter says.
Motorists in Louisiana currently pay 38.4 cents in taxes per gallon of gasoline, including 20 cents in state taxes. The state rate hasn’t changed since 1990, even as construction costs boomed. Every one-cent increase in the gas tax is estimated to raise $30 million a year.
An increase in the state’s gas tax has been proposed as one answer to Louisiana’s $13 billion backlog of road and bridge repair and upgrade needs. That doesn’t count the wish list of new construction projects.
Opponents say the state needs to do a better job of spending the transportation dollars it has, rather than asking taxpayers to pony up more. Americans for Prosperity, the main political advocacy group for billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, is among the chief critics and is lambasting the idea on social media and other online sites.