- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:

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July 21

American Press, Lake Charles, Louisiana, on putting highway money back where it belongs:

Louisiana can’t whittle down its $12 billion backlog in highway and bridge needs because too much of the state’s gasoline tax revenue is being used for other purposes.

Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, a longtime champion of highway development, said $60 million is being used to fund state police. Sen. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe, said the state is spending about $46 million per year for parish road needs, which is about $16 million more than required.

The Advocate said Adley repeatedly noted during the meeting that voters would be stunned to know the state is spending only $27 million a year on highway preservation, which is well below the $70 million or so spent in recent years.

Taxpayers have a difficult time determining why highway work is always underfunded, but a close look at the funding mechanism explains why.

Motorists pay 38 cents per gallon in sales taxes - an 18-cent federal tax and a 20-cent state tax. The Advocate said the state also collects $630 million per year in federal highway dollars, but congressional bickering has that revenue stream in doubt.

Four cents of the state’s 20 cents pays for the TIMED program that funded over a dozen highway, airport and port projects. The major goal was to four-lane major highways in the state, but estimates were low and costs have increased since 1989 when the program was launched. Too many revenues from the remaining 16-cent state gasoline tax are going to other areas of state government.

An interim legislative committee is supposed to come up starting in September with ways to generate new highway dollars, but it’s an almost impossible task. Anti-tax sentiment is so intense, that is an unlikely source. However, putting existing gasoline tax revenues back on highways and increasing the gasoline tax appear to be the only answers.

Online:

http://americanpress.com

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July 21

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