Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Yet another gas tax to fund infrastructure project in the works

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BATON ROUGE - Republican State Rep. Jack McFarland is authoring a bill aimed at raising the gas tax to improve the state's infrastructure. Something he says is impossible for DOTD to accomplish without more money.

"One thing that Dr. [Shawn] Wilson hasn't been able to do and cannot do is he cannot innovate our way out of the backlog of infrastructure. $15 billion backlog."

And that's just the backlog, the state wants to complete $13 billion of new projects as well, including building a new bridge in Baton Rouge.

Similar plans have failed twice in the past--in 2017 and 2019--and the governor himself isn't on board with passing one this year.

"Quite frankly, I don't think it would be possible to get a 2/3 vote this year in light of the economy and what has happened because of COVID and so forth, and so I am not going to be supporting that this year," Governor John Bel Edwards said on his radio show last month.

But McFarland is optimistic that his plan is different.

On top of an immediate 10 cent increase per gallon on gas, his tax will shift 4 cents of the existing 16 cents Transportation Trust Fund directly to construction projects.

Another 12 cents over the next 12 years will bring Louisiana up from the seventh lowest gas tax in the country to near the national average.

McFarland, who previously voted no on the last two gas tax proposals, wants 60 percent of the money raised to go toward rural bridge restoration projects, and 40 to new capacity projects.

The public's opinion goes both ways.

"If it will improve traffic, yes. Anything they improve the traffic, the roads yes," said Cynthia Thomas.

"No because the money is going to go somewhere else, and if it does it's going to be so far down in the future, we're going to have electric cars," said Jose Vasquez.

McFarland has yet to get support from the senate president or house speaker.


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