One For All, All For One

May 17, 2017

An active day at the Capitol Tuesday began with the House Ways and Means committee taking up HB 632 by Baton Rouge Representative Steve Carter.  The bill aims to increase the gas tax in Louisiana by 17 cents.  Along with Department of Transportation Secretary Sean Wilson, Representative Carter stressed the additional money would be dedicated solely to infrastructure.

Credit Louisiana House of Representatives Broadcast Archives

"This bill has very tight restrictions on what we will do with the additional 17 cents," explained Carter.

The current gas tax in the state is 20 cents.   That rate hasn't changed since 1989.

Baton Rouge Representative Barry Ivey said the only way he would support the bill "is if we have an absolute ironclad commitment to where there's transparency; where every constituent can go online 24 hours a day and see where every single penny is being spent."

The gas tax increase passed the Committee and will head to the House floor.  In the process, it was tied to other bills, including House Bill 119, which would establish such a website.  It's a key link in Ivey's tax reform package.

Later in the day when Representative Ivey's bills first came up on the House floor, one after the other was deferred to another day.  

But Ivey did bring one of his bills back, House Bill 355, a comprehensive tax reform measure.

"In my opinion, the only way to solve our problem is wholesale tax reform," he prefaced.

Representative Alan Seabaugh of Shreveport said he's concerned about multiple bills being packaged as one.  

"A couple of those I really like and a couple of them I could never vote for," said Seabaugh.

Seabaugh also noted the fiscal impact of the bill remains unknown.

"You're standing there asking us to vote for a comprehensive bill that completely rewrites corporate income tax and individual income tax and you can't tell us whether it's a billion dollar tax increase, or a billion dollar tax cut, or somewhere in between."

Ivey decided to wait and try the bill against next week in hopes of coming up with a fiscal note.