Lawmakers approve biggest transport increase in 37 years; “Major milestone” | Legislature – New Orleans, Louisiana
Congress on Thursday approved a bill to gradually increase state aid to roads and bridges by about $ 300 million per year. This is the biggest investment in Louisiana’s problematic transportation system in nearly 40 years.
The House of Representatives approved it 87-13, the Senate approved it 37-0, and the session had less than an hour left.
The key question is whether Governor John Bel Edwards will sign the Houseville 514 Bill.
“We are not ready to discuss signing the bill,” Edwards said at a press conference after the meeting.
The increase is due to the gradual transfer of 60% of sales tax revenue from the sale of cars and trucks from general state revenue sources to those solely for the purpose of improving transportation.
Supporters said 75% of the money would go to so-called megaprojects, including the construction of a new bridge over the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge, and 25% to conservation.
Voting continued days after a behind-the-scenes meeting between Edwards and legislative leaders, including Wednesday evening and early Thursday morning.
Speaker of the House Pro Tem Tanner Maggie, the bill’s main sponsor, R-Houma, pleaded with the Speaker of the House to support the proposal.
Maggie has seen the country make significant investments in education, medical care, and other areas, but national surveys routinely rank the condition of roads and bridges down. I said there is. “But one of the things that we’ve never committed to investing in is infrastructure,” he said.
One of the key questions was whether lawmakers could make plans that Edwards could agree to without worrying about running out of general dollar funds needed for services in major states.
The law contains provisions to prevent this from happening.
The sales tax on the sale of cars and trucks generates approximately $ 500 million annually.
Under the bill, 30% of its income will be transferred to the Transport Fund in mid-2023, and an additional 30%, for a total of 60%, will be transferred the following year.
However, the sponsor added a clause that limits remittances to $ 150 million per year if the state’s revenue forecast calls for a drop of more than $ 100 million.
Plus, just $ 150 million in new income per year can result in borrowing costs. This is a measure designed to stretch the dollar, but it can also hamper efforts to support Louisiana’s general financial resources.
Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Rick Ward III, R-Port Allen, and the Senate bill’s sponsors are cautious of supporters to reduce the chances that the transfer will exacerbate the upcoming budget crisis. State. Said he took.
“We wanted to make sure we were doing it responsibly,” Ward told the Senate.
State records show that in 1984, taxes were increased from 8 cents per gallon to 16 cents, so if signed by the governor, the law would be the largest continuing increase in highway revenue. Will be.
“Today’s legislative action is an important step in reducing the untreated portion of the state’s infrastructure needs,” said Eric Ponti, executive director and former representative of the Louisiana Asphalt Association. We position the state so that it can compete economically with other countries. “
The HB514 is also a revolutionary product for meeting transportation needs and has many years of backing up the daily traffic of drivers in Baton Rouge and beyond, without a permanent fix from the state legislature. Has been received.
Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Monday that the state is receiving $ 216 million in transportation assistance from one of the federal stimulus bills.
Efforts to raise the state’s fuel tax, which is 20 cents per gallon, have repeatedly fallen in the efforts of the hearing impaired in the House and Senate, despite the $ 14 billion in roads and bridges untreated.
With the big hurdles looming, Senate leaders are behind the late-session push, which supporters say will be a big help in solving the longest in Louisiana …
Opponents said their members did not want to pay more with the pump.
Short-term promotion to expand the state’s 0.045% excise tax, which is due to expire in 2025, and increase state transportation assistance by nearly $ 400 million a year, earlier this week , against the Conservative House caucus and others. Has been sidelined.
Later in the session, the search for new national aid for roads and bridges made a major change on Monday.
In 2019, the state legislature agreed to amend the state’s acquisition of more than $ 700 million in roads following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This made it possible to finance a small number of road and bridge projects.
However, the aid was only compared once to the decision approved on Thursday. That would raise about the same amount as an increase in the state’s gasoline tax of one penny per gallon.
The bill was initially a straightforward measure to remove the state sales tax exemption on the sale of medical marijuana.
But when the bill was passed, House efforts by Ward, Senate Speakers Page Cortez, R-Lafayette and others to rewrite the bill began to aim to have a significant impact on transportation. .
The makeup of the negotiating committee, which kicked off the final draft of the bill, underscored its importance, including Cortez, Maggie, Ward, House Speaker Clay Shexnader and R-Gonzalez.
The speaker mentioned earlier that the 2021 regular session could contain historic breakthroughs.
Cortez, Ward and Magee all played a leading role in the Deepwater Horizon funding review two years ago.
The funding covers projects that are garnering attention statewide, including the Baton Rouge Bridge. Upgrading the US highway. Line 90 between New Orleans and Lafayette will meet interstate freeway standards, and Interstate 12 will be roughly extended between Satsuma and the Mississippi.
Scott Kirkpatrick, Parliament’s regional industry secretary general for sustainable infrastructure solutions, said the bill would allow the construction of the Baton Rouge Bridge, a “big step forward”.
Projects recently added to the final version of the bill include the extension of Interstate 10 between Williams Boulevard and Veterans Boulevard in Kenner, and up to lane I-10 on the La Hwy. 30 on the. highway. twenty two.
The general public will first see 15 possible intersections of the new bridge over the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge in the spring of 2022 …
The bill’s sponsors argued that it seemed to have more influence than the 2008 law, which required the transfer of $ 400 million in car sales revenue from the General Fund to the Trust Fund.
However, the law contained a provision that transfers would only take place when state revenues reached a certain level, which never happened.
Lawmakers approve biggest transport increase in 37 years; “Major milestone” | Legislature Source link Lawmakers approve biggest transport increase in 37 years; “Major milestone” | Legislature