Transportation committee clashes over new ideas
BATON ROUGE - Former Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Kam Movassaghi outlined suggestions on how to improve Louisiana's transportation system.
Movassaghi presented new ways of doing things Tuesday to a transportation funding task force at the State Capitol. He says the changes need to start at the top with a seven-person commission leading the way to provide stability.
The commission would appoint a director. Movassaghi says it's time to give communities more control over roads.
"Baton Rouge is in control over everything. We have to go to Baton Rouge with hand in hand for everything, and I think the time has come to relinquish some of that responsibility, give it to the communities and allow them to take charge of their own responsibility," he said.
Current DOTD Secretary Sherri LeBas feels the structure is fine the way it is right now.
"I'm going to respectfully disagree with you in that I believe the structure we have is not as bureaucratic as a commissioner structure, and in fact, other states that have that I can't say they're any better off than how we are structured," she said.
Other task force members, like Louisiana Associated General Contractors CEO Kenneth Naquin, say the transportation system needs to improve before the state misses out on new business.
"The infrastructure is not there today to handle the current population that's in the plants," said Naquin. "When we're talking about the possibility of 90-100 billion dollars worth of industrial expansion we do not have, the state of Louisiana does not have the infrastructure."
Movassaghi also suggest replacing the state's 16 cents per gallon gasoline tax with an 8 percent sales tax on fuel. He says that would create an additional $210 million and would also increase revenue in the future.