After failing last year to pass legislation to raise Louisiana’s gas tax for road improvements, Baton Rouge Representative Steve Carter has a different idea this year. He is seeking to file a constitutional amendment that would divide the state into regions and let voters in that region decide if they want a higher gas tax for better roads. He says many oppose a statewide gas tax increase.
"A lot of people did not want to vote for it and in the areas they live, the gasoline tax would affect them but they didn't need any help."
In the last year’s bill, Carter proposed a 17-cent gas tax increase would have paid for a 15-billion-dollar backlog of projects. Carter says since not all roads and bridges across Louisiana need maintenance, this amendment would allow voters a chance to say if they felt a gas tax increase was necessary in their area.
"We can determine what area is in trouble and what areas would like to join us to file a gasoline tax and put it on the ballot to allow those areas to vote."
Carter says worsening road congestion is not only is a problem for drivers, but can hurt Louisiana’s economy. He cites the heavy traffic in his Baton Rouge area district as a key issue that needs to be solved in the state.
"It's costing businesses. It's costing time for us to come through this city. You gotta wait an hour to get four or five miles outside of Port Allen to cross our bridge."
The state hasn’t raised the gas tax since 1990. Drivers pay 38-point-four cents per gallon, including 20-cents in state taxes.