When the 2017 fiscal session of the Louisiana Legislature rolls around in January,you can bet roads and taxes are going to be hot button topics. The question that we, the people of Louisiana, have to answer is this. Do we want better roads and bridges? Are we willing to pay more in taxes to get better roads and bridges?

At least one member of the newly formed Transportation Task Force says that we won't be able to have one without the other. Kenny Havard spoke to the Louisiana Radio Network about why he says the task force is considering an increase in the gas tax.

You say the word tax, and I cringe every time. We’re just talking about the facts, and the fact is everybody wants new roads, and everybody wants a new bridge, and no one wants to sit in traffic. It’s just, how do we pay for it.

Currently Louisiana ranks 41st in the nation in the amount of taxes that are placed on gasoline. The gas tax in our state has not been raised in 20 years according to Havard. He suggested in his comments that a bump in the gas tax might be what it takes to cover the cost of the $12 billion in backlogged road and highway projects. This would include maintenance on some of the state's aging bridges and infrastructure.

The buying power of that money has gone down. Everything has increased, the cost of concrete, asphalt, construction. So all we’re doing now is trying to keep our head afloat.

In the current tax formula .16 cents of Louisiana's gas tax goes to help fund transportation improvements, maintenance, and repairs. Havard seems to think that the people of Louisiana deserve better, but there is going to be a cost.

That’s what this task force has been commissioned to do is look at different revenue streams and see what we can do to support out infrastructure.

The task force must report their findings by January 1, 2017. That would be just ahead of the start of the fiscal session of the legislature in Baton Rouge.

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