Lawmakers will likely consider a bill to increase the state’s gasoline tax, when they meet for the 2017 fiscal session. That’s according to Representative Kenny Havard, who serves as chairman of the House Transportation Committee and sits on the newly-formed Transportation Task Force. Havard says the state’s gasoline tax has not been raised in over 20 years and there is not enough funds to address the $12 billion backlog for transportation maintenance, much less any new projects.

“The buying power of that money has gone down. Everything has increased, the cost of concrete, asphalt, construction. So all we’re doing now is trying to keep our head afloat,” Havard said.

Louisiana’s 20 cent gas tax ranks 41 in the nation, and only 16 cents of it goes to the transportation trust fund. Havard says he doesn’t really want to raise any taxes, but the state needs the revenue to address the problems with our roads and bridges.

“You say the word tax, and I cringe every time. We’re just talking about the facts, and the fact is everybody wants new roads, and everybody wants a new bridge, and no one wants to sit in traffic. It’s just, how do we pay for it,” Havard said.

The 18 member taskforce must come up with suggestions for the 2017 session by January 1. Havard says he is open to any other ideas to fund transportation projects, including tolls and public-private partnerships.

“That’s what this task force has been commissioned to do is look at different revenue streams and see what we can do to support out infrastructure,” Havard said.