BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – A bill that started as a tax on medical marijuana has now changed to two different tax overhauls. After an attempt to use a temporary half cent sales tax for infrastructure plans failed, lawmakers are looking to shift money elsewhere to fix Louisiana roads and bridges.
House Bill 514 by Representative Tanner Magee has changed a lot over the few weeks:
Last week on the senate floor Senator Rick Ward added an amendment that would make the temporary sales tax implemented in 2018 permanent. Starting in 2025 under that amendment, the $350 million would be taken from the general fund and put into a construction only sub-fund. Even with the backing of Senate President Page Cortez, the Legislative Conservative Caucus opposed it alongside Democrats.
Now there is a new push to bring funding to fix infrastructure construction.
“They got rid of the medical marijuana tax altogether, they added a vehicle sales tax to the bill with some projects,” Rep. Magee said.
The amendment would take millions of dollars out of the vehicle tax. About 75% would slowly be redirected to the construction sub-fund, gradually increasing through 2025. This would come out to around $375 million a year, which currently goes towards health care, education, and various other state services.
The Senate approved the changes without any objection and now awaits approval and debate in the House.
Through federal COVID relief aid, the legislators allocated $560 million towards infrastructure for a number of different roads and bridge projects. President Joe Biden is also working on a major infrastructure bill that could bring additional money to the state construction budget.
Senator Ward said in committee last week that the issue of fixing the state infrastructure has been pushed off far too long and it needs to be addressed now to better incentivize people not to move out of the state. Rep. Magee asked to move the bill to a conference committee to work out some of the kinks in that new amendment.