Voters across the state on November 6 handily approved Constitutional Amendment 4, which places additional safeguards on the state Transportation Trust Fund to prevent future diversions to non-transportation budget items. The measure was approved by 56 percent of the voters.
"Nearly 800,000 voters said the money the state collects for transportation should not be used for other purposes," Perret said. "That's a strong message the voters are sending, that they support transportation funding."
Louisiana, like other states, relies on a per-gallon tax on motor fuels to fund transportation, and those revenues are placed in the state Transportation Trust Fund. Louisiana's 20-cents-per-gallon tax is among the lowest in the country and hasn't been raised in nearly three decades.
Recent national election results show that voters are willing to support additional investments in their state's transportation systems, even if it means paying higher gasoline taxes. Voters in 12 states across the country overwhelmingly re-elected state lawmakers who supported gas tax increases from 2015 to 2018. The November election results show 93 percent of the 530 state lawmakers who supported an increase and ran for re-election were re-elected, according to an analysis by the Transportation Investment Advocacy Center. "The results are consistent with those over the last five years that show support for a gas tax increase does not hurt political careers," TIAC said.
Perret said the national results, coupled with the strong support for Constitutional Amendment 4, bode well for those Louisiana legislators who support increased investment in transportation. A bill to raise transportation funds through a gas tax increase died before reaching the House for a vote last year but Perret said numerous private polls show that Louisiana voters support an increase in the gasoline tax if the money is strongly dedicated to transportation funding.
"The public is demanding that our state leaders fix our roads and bridges and it takes political leadership to provide the funds to do that," Perret said. "Across the country, we have seen that voters reward those legislators who do their jobs. The question in Louisiana for 2019 and beyond is this: Do our legislators get the message, and are they listening to their constituents who are fed up with traffic congestion, rough roads and unsafe bridges?"