New Orleans, Louisiana 2021-06-10 20:15:00 –
Congress approved a bill on Thursday to gradually increase state aid to roads and bridges by about $ 300 million a year. This is the largest investment in Louisiana’s problematic transportation system for 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 bill, Houseville 514.
“We’re not ready to talk about whether the bill will be signed,” Edwards said in a press conference after the meeting.
The increase is driven by the gradual shift of 60% of sales tax revenue from the sale of cars and trucks from the state’s general 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 across the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge, and 25% to conservation.
Voting continued days after a behind-the-scenes meeting between Edwards and the legislative leaders, including Wednesday evening and early Thursday morning.
House Speaker Pro Tem Tanner Maggie, chief sponsor of the bill, R-Houma, begged the House Chair to support the proposal.
Maggie has seen the country make large investments in education, medical care and other areas, but national surveys routinely rank road and bridge conditions near the bottom. I said there is. “But one of the things 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 accept without worrying about running out of dollar general funds needed for services in major states.
The law contains provisions aimed at preventing it from happening.
Sales tax on the sale of cars and trucks generates about $ 500 million annually.
Under the bill, 30% of its income will be transferred to the Transport Fund in mid-2023, and another 30%, for a total of 60%, will be transferred the following year.
However, the sponsor has added a clause that limits remittances to $ 150 million annually if the state’s revenue forecast predicts a decline of more than $ 100 million.
In addition, only $ 150 million of new income per year can lead to borrowing costs. This is a move designed to stretch the dollar, but it can also hinder efforts to support Louisiana’s general financial resources.
Senate Transport Commission Chairman Rick Ward III, R-Port Allen, and Senate sponsors of the bill are cautious by supporters to reduce the chances that the transfer will exacerbate the future state budget crisis. Said that he took.
“We wanted to make sure we did this responsibly,” Ward told the Senate.
State records show that in 1984, taxes were raised by 8 cents per gallon to 16 cents, so if signed by the Governor, the law would be the largest continuous increase in road revenue. Will be.
“Today’s legislative action is a major milestone in reducing the unprocessed portion of the state’s infrastructure needs, and Louisiana said, Eric Ponti, Executive Director and former representative of the Louisiana Asphalt Association. We are positioning the state so that it can compete economically with other countries. “
The HB514 is also a breakthrough product for addressing transportation needs and has many years of daily traffic backup from drivers in Baton Rouge and elsewhere, without a permanent solution from the state legislature. Has been received.
Governor John Bel Edwards announced on 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 into the efforts of the hearing impaired in the House and Senate, despite the $ 14 billion untreated road and bridge needs.
While the big hurdles are imminent, Senate leaders are behind the push late in the session, which proponents say will be of great help in solving the longest in Louisiana …
Opponents said their members did not want to pay more with the pump.
Short-term promotion to extend the state’s 0.045% excise tax, which is due to expire in 2025, and increase state transportation assistance by nearly $ 400 million annually, earlier this week, in opposition from House Conservative Caucus and others. Was shelved in.
The drive later in the session to find new national aid for roads and bridges made a major shift on Monday.
In 2019, the state legislature agreed to change the state’s acquisition of more than $ 700 million in routes following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This has funded a small number of road and bridge projects.
However, the assistance was only once compared to the move approved on Thursday. That would raise about the same amount as a dime increase in the state’s petrol tax per gallon.
The bill was initially a simple step to remove the state sales tax exemption from the sale of therapeutic marijuana.
But as the bill passed the House’s efforts by Ward, Senate Chairs Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, and others to rewrite the bill began aiming to have a significant impact on transport.
The composition of the negotiating committee, which launched the final version of the bill, noted its importance, including Cortez, Maggie, Ward, Speaker of the House Clay Shexnader, and R-Gonzalez.
The speaker mentioned earlier that the 2021 regular session may 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 attract attention throughout the state, including the Baton Rouge Bridge. US Highway Upgrade. Line 90 between New Orleans and Lafayette will meet interstate highway standards, and Interstate 12 will be roughly expanded between Satsuma and Mississippi.
Scott Kirkpatrick, Secretary-General of the Parliament’s Regional Industry for Sustainable Infrastructure Solutions, said the bill would enable the construction of the Baton Rouge Bridge, a “big step forward.”
Newly added projects to the final version of the bill include extending Interstate Highway 10 between Williams Boulevard and Veterans Boulevard in Kenner, and to the I-10 lane on the La Highway. 30 on La Highway. twenty two.
The general public will first see 15 possible intersections of the new bridge across the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge in the spring of 2022 …
The bill’s sponsors argued that this seemed to be more influential 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 transportation hike in 37 years; ‘Major milestone’ | Legislature Source link Lawmakers approve biggest transportation hike in 37 years; ‘Major milestone’ | Legislature