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Group pushes boost in gas tax

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Highway coalition wants bond issue to cut construction backlog


A highway advocacy group is launching a bid to raise Louisiana’s gasoline tax by 10 cents per gallon, despite huge political hurdles.

In addition, the coalition of highway contractors and others wants lawmakers to offer voters a $3 billion bond issue to trim the state’s $12.8 billion backlog of road and bridge projects.

“We know this is an uphill climb but we believe that people want and demand a better highway system,” said Mike Bruce, chairman of Driving Louisiana Forward, which is pushing the two proposals.

Bruce said his group plans to start meeting with chambers of commerce, community leaders and others statewide to gauge interest.

Key lawmakers said the two-part package has virtually no chance of winning legislative support, especially amid tight finances and with 2011 being an election year.

“It is going to be extremely hard to accomplish,” said state Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Joe McPherson, D-Woodworth.

State Sen. Dale Erdey, R-Livingston and vice chairman of the panel, agreed.

“Obviously this is not a good time to initiate anything in terms of additional taxation,” Erdey said.

Driving Louisiana Forward is made up largely of highway contractors, consulting engineers and material suppliers.

Bruce, who is managing principal with ABMB Engineers, Inc., in Baton Rouge, is chairman of the 12-member board.

Louisiana’s road and bridge needs have sparked studies, reports and arguments for months without any answers.

Last year, four legislative committees studied the issue, but failed to come up with a plan to pay for improvements.

Bruce said a big selling point of his group’s plan is that the proposals would be put in a form that requires the support of two thirds of the House and Senate and a majority of voters.

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Written by demon53

October 25, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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