A Washington, D.C. lobbying group trying to influence Louisiana legislators is 100% wrong in its interpretation of how the state spends the transportation dollars it receives, the leader of Louisiana's top transportation advocacy group said Tuesday.
Ken Perret, president of the Louisiana Good Roads and Transportation Association, says DOTD is spending only 11% of state gasoline taxes on administration and support services. Americans for Prosperity, a Washington-based lobbying group, is saying the exact opposite, that the state is only spending 11% of its revenue on transportation, Perret said.
"The number is right, but these Washington lobbyists are intentionally misleading legislators and citizens as to what the 11% figure represents," Perret said of the Americans for Prosperity group. "The truth is that 89% of the state gas tax pays for all the things needed to build and maintain our infrastructure."
In its session that begins April 10, the Louisiana Legislature is expected to debate a measure to raise the state motor fuels tax to modernize and maintain the transportation system. At 20-cents-per-gallon, the Louisiana tax is among the lowest in the country and has not been adjusted in a quarter-Century. The tax is the primary means of financing transportation.
The Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank, recently said Louisiana's administrative costs per mile were lower than 36 other states. Ironically, some of the Reason Foundation's largest contributors include foundations run by David and Charles Koch, which also are financing the misleading campaign, Perret said.
Here are the facts:
- Louisiana receives about $600 million a year in state gasoline taxes.
- $67.3 million, or 11.2%, goes toward the salaries and expenses of professionals in administration and support services, including administration, human resources, legal, finance and audit personnel.
- The rest of the funds provide matching dollars on federally funded projects; finance state-only projects; provide transportation funding to local governments, multi-modal operations and safety projects; and pay for maintenance, engineering, surveying, technical and other personnel and operations costs that directly impact transportation.
"Good Roads believes we should have a healthy debate about the gas tax and the state of our roads and bridges," Perret said. "The debate should be based on facts and what is best for Louisiana, not on half-truths and what's best for some Washington-based political interest."