Louisiana statehouse meeting discussion focuses on road use fees
October 27, 2022
The struggle for road and bridge dollars in Louisiana was the topic of a recent state legislative task force meeting. A higher road-use fee is one solution offered.
The Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office has reported to state lawmakers that Louisiana needs higher road use fees to help address funding shortfalls.
Louisiana has a nearly $15 billion backlog in road and bridge projects, the office reported.
Gina Brown, a performance audit manager with the Legislative Auditor, told a legislative task force on electric vehicles that the state stands to lose $563.6 million in road use fees over the next decade.
Multiple recommendations were made to eat into the funding gap.
One source of additional revenue comes from new fees on alternative-fuel vehicles.
A new Louisiana law set to take effect the first of the year is intended to address supplementing transportation funding via owners of affected vehicles.
The new rule imposes annual road use fees for electric and hybrid vehicles. Specifically, annual fees of $110 for electric vehicles and $60 for hybrids and plug-in hybrids can be collected.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development will receive 70% of the money collected. The rest of the money will be directed to the Parish Transportation Fund, where it will be distributed to local governments.
Brown told the task force the new road use fees could eat into the shortfall by about $240 million.
She said the estimates are based off the assumption that all affected vehicle owners self-report on state income taxes. She adds that many will not report or pay the voluntary fee.
The auditor’s office recommends that electric vehicle fees increase by $2 to $112 each year. Hybrid vehicle fees should increase by $6 to $66 and hybrid plug-in vehicle fees should increase by $36 to $96 annually.
Brown pointed out the use of electric vehicles is projected to be about 30% of all vehicles within the state over the next decade.
A separate recommendation is to provide additional mechanisms to address losses in fuel taxes due to higher fuel efficiency.
The state collects a 20-cent-per-gallon fuel tax. The rate is unchanged since 1990.
Lawmakers were told if the fuel tax had been indexed to inflation three decades ago, the current rate would be 49 cents.
Attempts at the statehouse to raise the fuel tax have been unsuccessful.
Another recommendation is to do away with the fuel tax and collect a higher road use fee.
State lawmakers can use the auditor’s report as a guide when crafting transportation funding legislation for consideration during the 2023 regular session. LL
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