Gas tax hike opposition group launches text message campaign

    Americans for Prosperity-Louisiana, one of the most vocal opponents of raising the Louisiana gas tax, has launched a text message campaign encouraging residents statewide who oppose the gas tax hike to reach out to their legislators.

    The Louisiana chapter of AFP—a national organization based in Virginia—was integral to defeating the gas tax increase proposed in the 2017 legislative session, and the group has once again come out strongly against the renewed effort.

    The group started the text messaging campaign one week ago, which has since reached nearly 50,000 Louisiana residents, says AFP-Louisiana President John Kay.

    “Special interest groups in Baton Rouge are lobbying to increase your taxes on every single gallon of gas,” the text reads. “Louisianans already pay 38.4 cents on every gallon, and if special interests get their way, you’ll pay 56.4 cents on every single gallon of gas.”

    The text goes on to ask if Louisianans should have to pay the additional tax. If the recipient responds, Kay says, they are then sent a link to contact legislators.

    So far more than 1,000 people have reached out to state representatives in opposition to the gas tax, according to Kay. He says he is not entirely sure how the group acquires phone numbers but believes the majority come from voter files. The texts are also sent by actual people, he adds, unlike robocalls.

    “We pledged last week that we would contact around 50,000 people each week until the gas tax bill is dead,” Kay says. “We believe in road funding, but we just don’t believe a gas tax is the way to do it.”

    The legislation—House Bill 542 sponsored by Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge—is currently pending approval from the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill is supported by business and industry groups, led by the Louisiana Coalition to Fix Our Roads.

    LCFOR Director Erich Ponti says the coalition has grown to include 100 businesses, organizations and chambers of commerce backing the gas tax hike, which could raise nearly $1 billion of dedicated money for specific, and badly needed, infrastructure projects, including a new Mississippi River bridge.

    “The federal government is about to invest highly in infrastructure, and if we don’t have the funds to make the match now, we’ll be even more behind the rest of the nation (in terms of infrastructure),” Ponti says. “This is critical.”

    President Donald Trump and leading Democratic lawmakers agreed in a meeting today that $2 trillion would be needed to overhaul U.S. infrastructure, though they have not yet decided how it would be funded. A federal gas tax hike has been discussed.

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