DOTD chief skeptical for any gas tax hike in 2021

BY WILL SENTELL | STAFF WRITER

Louisiana’s transportation chief Monday stopped just short of dismissing chances for a gas tax hike in 2021 that is being pushed by industry groups.

Shawn Wilson, secretary for the state Department of Transportation and Development, said looming issues sparked by the coronavirus pandemic and the need for top state leaders to agree on any gas tax increase makes it problematic this year.

“First I think my concern is really timing,” Wilson said. “Right now, I think it is all going to be pandemic and economic recovery because we absolutely need those things.”

The DOTD leader made his comments during a nearly one-hour meeting with the editorial board of The Advocate and The Times-Picayune.

Wilson’s views are significant because in 2017 he was the leader of a bid to boost the gas tax by 17 cents per gallon, which died without a vote in either the full state House or Senate.

Backers can ill afford any split in the ranks, especially since rounding up the needed two-thirds support in the House and Senate is always a huge political challenge.

Wilson said 2021 is “eerily similar” to 2017 in that, four years ago, gas tax boosters tried to gain traction at the same time that a roughly $1 billion shortfall dominated attention in the Legislature.

A group led by former state Rep. Erich Ponti, R-Baton Rouge, is behind legislation that would boost the gas tax by 10 cents per gallon initially – $300 million per year – and 22 cents eventually – $660 million annually.

Backers say the push is drawing support from a … Continue to Full Story >>>

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