“Anybody in here like taxes? Raise your hand! I’m a Republican. I don’t like taxes, but in this particular case, I like the tax,” Baton Rouge Representative Steve Carter said, referring to his bill earlier this year, which would have raised the gasoline tax. He’s still irritated that House leadership rebuffed that measure.
“We have horrible congestion, crumbling roads and thousands of unsafe bridges. It costs Louisiana motorists a total of $6.5-billion statewide annually, and as much as $2500 per driver. By contrast, increasing the gasoline tax only by 17 cents would have cost the average driver about $113 a year!” Carter said.
“What’s it going to take? A bridge collapsed? People killed? Is that what we want to wait for?”
Speaking to the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday, Carter says he’s not giving up, but since tax bills aren’t allowed in the next session, he’ll try to get funds for transportation needs another way.
“We have no choice but to ask for General Fund,” he stated. “There are 31 states that use general fund dollars and contribute to transportation projects. They found a way to do it. You know why? It’s a priority.”
Carter says he’s amply aware this will be the worst possible time to ask, with Louisiana facing the so-called fiscal cliff – the expiration of $1.2-billion in temporary taxes. But, he adds, that’s the point he’ll be making with his bill.
“Do not solve the $1.2-billion fiscal cliff: solve it for 1.7 billion, because infrastructure needs $500-million.”
He says raising the gasoline tax would have been much easier, “because it’s the closest thing of a user fee for transportation.”
But until his fellow House members find the will to act on transportation needs, Carter says, Louisiana’s overall fiscal situation won’t improve.
“Put simply, the current state of Louisiana infrastructure is a financial strain for our citizens and an anchor dragging on the Louisiana economy.”