Is It Time to Raise Gas Taxes in Louisiana?
Louisiana has a backlog of nearly $15 billion dollars in transportation projects and the money to pay for improvements is not increasing. A recent State Legislative Audit report shows the state Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) "is not sufficient to meet Louisiana’s $14.87 billion in infrastructure needs."
Why Does Louisiana Have Such a Backlog in Projects?
One of the reasons cited in the audit report is the gas tax paid by motorists in Louisiana. The report says "fuel taxes, which are the TTF’s largest source of revenue, have not increased since 1990 and are not indexed for inflation. In addition, the average fuel efficiency of passenger cars in the United States has increased, which has decreased the amount of revenue going into the fund."
How Much Do We Pay in Gas Taxes?
The gas tax in Louisiana is $.20 cents a gallon which puts us at #43 on the list of states when you compare gas taxes. The federal tax on gas is 18.4 cents a gallon and 24.4 cents a gallon for diesel.
This latest audit report also shows more than $300 million from the Transportation Trust Fund "was used to supplement the debt service for the Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development (TIMED) program and for constitutionally allowed local transportation needs, which further reduced the amount of revenue for state transportation needs."
The picture is not getting brighter as more drivers turn to electric cars and more fuel efficient cars. This will likely cut into the amount of gas tax collected by the state. The latest projections show we could see revenues decline by more than $500 million over the next 10 years.
This report also shows other states have implemented other fees or alternative taxes to make up for the declining gas tax revenues to keep up with road and bridge maintenance needs.
But 2023 is an election year and it is not likely lawmakers will approve any kind of increase in gas taxes or alternative taxes, but we will have to wait and see.