Steep Climb to Raising Louisiana's Gas Tax

A bill to hike Louisiana's gas tax by 17 cents per gallon has advanced, but the state has a "California problem": Tax increases must pass by a two-thirds majority.
May 25, 2017, 5am PDT | Irvin Dawid
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email Comments
ampol sonthong

When a state increases its gas tax, it's a notable event worth reporting. But there is also some merit in reporting failed attempts to hike taxes for transportation, like Monday's post on Colorado, though regrettably, the state legislature there is focused on hiking the sales tax rather than the gas tax. Increasing state gas taxes, more often than not, takes several attempts.

Louisiana's constitutional supermajority requirement helps explain why the 20-cents-per gallon state gas tax, tied with Texas as the eighth lowest in the nation, hasn't been increased in 28 years. But Louisiana doesn't suffer the same degree partisan politics as does the Golden State, which approved a 12-cents increase to the gas tax last month, by coincidence, also the first increase in 28 years [pdf] as well, with only one Republican vote.

The gas tax bill, HB 632, authored by Republican Rep. Steve Carter of Baton Rouge, cleared the House Ways and Means Committee on May 16, on a 9-7-1 vote, with five Democrats and four Republicans in support, reports Will Sentell for The Advocate. Republicans control both the House and the Senate.

With that vote count, it's difficult to imagine how Carter will amass 70 votes to pass the House, though backers were energized just the same. "[W]ith less than three weeks left in the session, only 50 or so House members are behind the bill," adds Sentell. The session ends June 8.

The billI "would raise $510 million per year for roads, bridges and others forms of transportation," adds Sentell. "The $13.1 billion backlog of roads and bridge needs, and another list of new 'mega' projects like a new bridge across the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge, are part of almost every debate on the gas tax."

Supporters and opponents

The bill is backed by the BUILD IT Coalition composed of 35 statewide, regional, and local economic development and industry groups, with the major backer being the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.

On the other side, the Louisiana chapter of Americans for Prosperity, an influential conservative group funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, has mobilized its members to lobby their legislators to oppose the bill. 

Louisiana's Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, supports the legislation, which also includes indexing the gas tax to inflation.

2017 State gas tax increases (party of governor): All states below, except California, have legislatures controlled by Republicans.

  1. California       (D):   12 cents
  2. Indiana          (R):   10 cents
  3. Montana        (D):    4.5 cents (signed into law May 3)
  4. Tennessee      (R):    6 cents
  5. South Carolina (R):  12 cents (passed on override of Gov. Henry McMaster's veto)

Hat tip to AASHTO Daily Journal.

Full Story:
Published on Saturday, May 20, 2017 in The Advocate (Louisiana)
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email