Louisiana Legislature Poised for Transportation Debate

Date: February 28, 2017

 

When the 2017 regular legislative session begins on April 10, debate about how to deal with Louisiana’s transportation infrastructure problems is expected to begin. This will come less than two months after the special session called to deal with a $303 million midyear budget deficit for the fiscal year ending on June 30. (At this writing, plans were not finalized for plugging that hole.)

The special session delayed announcement of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ transportation plan, but in an address to transportation and other groups last month, he said he wants to be “bold.” In December, the 18-member Task Force on Transportation Infrastructure Investment called for an annual $700 million increase in transportation funding to deal with a $13 billion backlog of road and bridge projects, as well as a $16 billion collection of “mega projects.” The task force also recommended that a gas tax hike would be the most reliable way to raise the money. An increase of 23 cents would be required to generate $700 million each year. Drivers currently pay 38.4 cents per gallon in state and federal taxes.

While Louisiana is ranked high for poor transportation infrastructure, according to Gov. Edwards—3rd worst for structurally deficient bridges and 8th worst for pavement conditions—a major tax hike is likely to be difficult to pass. Louisiana small businesses certainly can’t afford more.

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