December 22, 2009

Can Louisiana Double Its Gas Tax?

In January, Louisiana lawmakers will be hearing a lot about exactly how big that state's transportation funding shortfall is, as a committee releases the findings of a long-term study of this problem. But House Transportation Committee Vice-Chairman Hollis Downs (R) gave a sneak preview yesterday.
Louisiana needs $750 million per year in new revenue to address road and bridge needs, the vice-chairman of the House Transportation Committee said Monday.
To put this in context, Louisiana raises a bit less than this annually from its entire gasoline tax right now. So if the money were all coming from own-source gas tax revenues, Louisiana would have to more than double its gas tax to meet its needs.

Of course, the state's transportation funding doesn't really work that way. The feds kick in a fair amount, and state vehicle fees, tolls and general fund revenue fill in the gaps. But the size of the annual gap still should give pause to any Louisiana lawmakers who think they've got a budget surplus.


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