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Louisiana lawmakers approve largest increase in transportation spending in more than 30 years

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 5:52 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - In the waning hours of the Louisiana Legislative Session, lawmakers passed a bill that would provide substantial increases to the state’s transportation spending.

HB 415 would take up to 60% of sales tax from the purchase of vehicles from the state’s general fund and phase it into a dedicated transportation fund. It is estimated that once the full 60% is phased in, $300 million would be available for “mega” infrastructure projects.

“This is long, long, long overdue to see something dramatically done by the legislature,” said Adam Knapp, President and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.

Initially, only 30% of the sales tax would be dedicated in 2023, that number doubles to 60% in 2024. There are measures put in place to scale by the funding coming out of the general fund, limiting transfers to $150 million per year if state revenue projections are forecast to drop $100 million or more.

Knapp said the money would go a long way toward improving infrastructure in the Capital Region, specifically when it comes to funding new projects such as a third bridge over the Mississippi River and the widening of I-10.

“This is a huge piece of what we need to be able to go and tackle what we know are major infrastructure needs, as well as a ton of roads that are deficient, bridges that are being closed,” he said. “The state has a massive backlog of billions and billions that needs to be spent.”

As of Friday, June 11, Governor Edwards has not signed the bill. A representative from the governor’s office did not indicate his plans. Edwards has 20 days to sign or veto the bill. If he does not take any action the bill will automatically become law.

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