Gas tax hike hits the House floor Wednesday

Gas tax hike up for debate in Baton Rouge

BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - A bill up for discussion in Baton Rouge today could leave Louisiana drivers paying more at the pump.

It's no secret Louisiana's roads could use an upgrade. But the real question is: Are motorists ready to pay more to fund those improvements?

Wednesday afternoon state lawmakers in Baton Rouge may answer that question.

Legislators could vote on a tax increase that would cost drivers another 17 cents per gallon at the pump.

A Washington-based transportation group Trip released a report earlier this year showing 39 percent of roads and highways in major urban areas have poor pavement. Another 25 percent are rated at mediocre.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development says it has nearly $30 billion in projects it can't fund across the state.

But an increased gas tax could help fund those projects. Lawmakers say if it's passed it could generate $500 million in 2018.

But some conservative representatives think the state is already taxed to the max.

"If we don't invest, we will continue to be in the top five in terms of vehicle fatalities in this country, we will continue to being the top three for the worst bridge condition in the country, pavement among worst -- all for the worst, not for the best," said LaDOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson.

But some lawmakers think the increase is too steep.

"That's a big jump, 17 cents. I think it's too much of a jump and it causes me concern," said Rep. Stephen Dwight (Rep) Lake Charles.

The House is expected to take up the bill for a final passage Wednesday afternoon.

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