DOTD secretary backs increase in state gas tax

Shawn Wilson, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, advocated for an increase in the state’s gas tax on the Ellevate Louisiana videocast, saying it would help the state better manage and improve its infrastructure. However, he said that the upcoming legislative session might not be the best time to push for it.

On the videocast, which was released today, Wilson championed some of the department’s recent accomplishments, such as the Interstate 10 widening in St. Martin Parish, while also pushing for the increased gas tax.

“Ten states have gone two decades or more without a gas tax increase,” Wilson says. “And guess what Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Shreveport? The state that you’re in is one of those states that’s gone more than two decades without addressing our gas tax.”  

Louisiana has a $15 billion backlog in road and bridge maintenance and $13 billion in new projects that have yet to be funded, Houma Today reports

Wilson says the other states that have not changed their gas tax in the last 20 years are Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Mississippi, Missouri, Alaska and Delaware. 

“They’re the ones with the progressive structure of how they’re providing services,” Wilson says. “A big part of that has to do with their infrastructure investment.”

In some other states, even those with a comparable gas tax rate, other revenue sources are used to fund infrastructure projects.  

But in Louisiana, revenue from sources such as vehicle sales tax and offshore revenue go to the state’s general fund.  

The stage has already been set for the Legislature to consider an increase in the gas tax. Rep. Jack McFarland, R-Winnfield, plans to introduce the Government Reform in Transportation Act, which would raise the tax by 22 cents over 12 years. Read the full story.