How Much Will Transitioning To Electric Vehicles Cost Louisiana?
Across the country, there are increasing calls for Americans to consider transitioning to electric vehicles for reasons ranging from economic to environmental. However, a report from Louisiana's Legislative Auditor, Michael Waguespack, also predicts a major budget shortfall over the next decade because of electric vehicles.
Writing that "the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) is not sufficient to meet Louisiana’s $14.87 billion in infrastructure needs," Waguespack indicates that the state's gas tax revenue could see a drop in $563 million over the next decade.
The legislature had already begun tackling the problem by passing Republican Rep. Barbara Frieberg's bill taxing EV and hybrid owners. That tax will take effect starting in 2023.
Frieberg's House Bill 1031 charges an annual fee of $110 for EV owners and $60 for hybrid owners, but that won't be enough to fill the funding gap, Waguepack reported. The state's gas tax revenue will still be $322.9 million short over the course of the next ten years.
"These road usage fees for electric vehicles and hybrids are very important first steps, but they won't generate nearly enough revenue to offset what we're losing in declining gas tax revenue," Frieberg told the USAToday Network earlier this year. "I think it's the most important bill I ran this year. It's a matter of paying their fair share for the use of our roads and bridges."
Waguespack also reported that the current gas tax in Louisiana is simply not high enough to meet the state's needs, according to The Advocate.
He also said nearly $310 million had to be redirected over a six-year period from rank-and-file projects to help pay the debt for a transportation program approved by voters three decades ago called TIMED.
The report echoes arguments that have been advanced for years by state Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson and others. They say the state has a $15 billion backlog of road and bridge needs that can never be met with today's funding structure.
Efforts to boost the gas tax have failed in the Legislature, and critics say their constituents are unwilling to pay more at the pump even while recognizing the need for improvements.
In his report, Waguespack also points out how other states have diversified their transportation funding.
"Other states such as Texas, Florida and George have more diverse revenue streams, such as sales and use taxes and toll fees dedicated to their transportation needs," he wrote in his lengthy report.
The legislature has tried on occasion to raise the gas tax in the state. It is unclear if this report will have any impact on the legislature trying to diversify, as Waguespack suggests, the sources of income for the state's transportation fund.