A Louisiana state representative may have hit the brakes on his long-shot pitch to raise the state’s gas tax, but he is still urging legislators to shore up funds for road and bridge needs.
Rep. Steve Carter pulled his proposal from the House Ways and Means Committee’s consideration Monday, citing little willingness to vote on tax measures in this election year. He also noted the limited time that lawmakers would have had to move his bill through the legislative process before they adjourn June 6.
“I know this is an election year and a difficult time to talk about raising taxes,” the Baton Rouge Republican told panel members.
Carter’s bill would have gradually risen the gas tax by 18 cents a gallon by 2031. At its peak, it would have fed the state $540 million a year for infrastructure projects. It would have marked the state’s first gas tax increase since 1989.
“We came here to have courage,” Carter said. “We came here to be bold, and we’ve waited 30 years to be bold.”
Supporters included the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and Greater New Orleans Inc.
Opponents acknowledged the state’s $14 billion road and bridge backlog but maintained that Louisiana drivers feel taxed enough.
“We agree that there’s a problem, and we agree on what the problem is,” said John Kay, who runs Louisiana’s chapter of the anti-tax group Americans for Prosperity. “We just disagree on the approach. We support finding the money elsewhere.”
Carter is term-limited from the House and is running for state Senate this year. He is calling on whoever wins the governor’s race this fall to call a special session in 2020 to debate infrastructure spending.
“Give the next year’s members the ability to do something of real significance that they will be proud of,” he said. “It affects every one of us in here, and it affects every one of us in this state.”