BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Louisiana roads and bridges took a key focus in the legislative session and now are being brought up in the federal fight to pass an infrastructure package in Congress.
On the federal level, Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy shared with reporters some of his efforts to work out a bi-partisan plan. The team is made up of five Democrats and five Republicans. Their plan lays out spending $1.2 trillion dollars over eight years, less than President Joe Biden’s plan of $1.7 trillion.
Part of the plan includes indexing the gas tax. Currently, it sits at 18.4 cents per gallon for gasoline and it has not been changed for 28 years. Senator Cassidy said the president has already expressed concern over funding coming from a gas tax.
“President Biden has said he will not accept that. That somehow this is too much for the American people to pay,” Sen. Cassidy said. “My reply would be, okay, if you don’t like to pay for it, what do you offer as an alternative?”
He pointed out that the average Louisianian gets stuck in traffic and on bridges due to the poor infrastructure every day.
“I am just so aware there are so many people in Louisiana who spend far too long waiting to get across a bridge. Name the bridge,” Sen. Cassidy said. “They will spend an extra five hours a week on their commute. Now that actually has a time value associated with it.”
It is unclear how much of the split senate will support this version of an infrastructure package. There are other plans being formed by Republicans and Democrats on how they want to address infrastructure spending.
On the state level, a bill by Representative Tanner Magee that would take 75% of the vehicle tax and put into a construction sub-fund sits on Governor John Bel Edwards’ desk.
The Governor has already expressed his concerns taking the estimated $300 million a year out of the general fund. The changes to the vehicle tax on the state level would begin in 2025, the same year the temporary half cent sales tax sunsets as well, which the Governor is worried will create a fiscal cliff.