Task force proposes $700 million increase in state transportation funding.
In the midst of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ and the Legislature’s ongoing battle to plug the state’s $312 million budget hole, another tax increase possibility has emerged.
Earlier in 2016, Edwards appointed an 18-member Task Force on Transportation Infrastructure Investment to come up with solutions for the state’s $13 billion backlog of road and bridge projects (plus a $16 billion list of “mega projects”). After months of public hearings, Louisiana Transportation and Development Secretary and task force co-chair Shawn Wilson announced that an annual $700 million increase in state transportation funding would be the best way to deal with these infrastructure problems.
The task force also says the “most reliable” way to generate this money is with a gas tax increase that more than doubles the current rate, although other revenue-generating methods will also be pursued, such as higher commercial truck fees. The current gas tax rate is 38.4 cents per gallon, and the proposed increase could be as much as 23 cents.
This—and any other tax increase proposal—will be an issue to watch in 2017. Louisiana’s small businesses can’t afford any more tax hikes.