Which is the lesser of two evils? Are you willing to pay as much as .23 cents more per gallon of gas or are you willing to continue to drive on poorly maintained roads and bridges? One or the other of those scenarios is likely to play out over the week or so in Baton Rouge.

Governor Edwards Task Force on Transportation Infrastructure Investment is expected to make a recommendation for .23 cent increase in fuel prices in their report due to be officially released next week.

We all know the Easter Bunny isn't going to deliver these projects.We've got to find the revenue to pay for these needed investments.

Those were the Governor's comments in regards to the subject of our budget-strapped state's $13 billion backlog of road and bridge projects. That $13 billion number doesn't include money for what the state is calling "mega" projects such as a new bridge over the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge.

In order for the state to generate revenue for those projects the task force is estimating that an annual increase of $700 million will be necessary. The report is expected to suggest that an increased fuel tax would be the most reliable method for raising that revenue. That's what reporter J.R. Ball of NOLA.com and the Times-Picayune newspaper were reporting.

If you're wondering about the current tax burden that is placed on a gallon of fuel it's .38 cents. .20 cents of that goes to the state. Of that .20 cents, .16 cents is supposed to go to improving and maintaining Louisiana roads and bridges. The other .04 cents goes to pay off a 1989 bond  for the still unfinished Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development, or TIMED, projects.

To put this all in perspective, let's assume your vehicle has a 12-gallon fuel tank. The proposed .23 cents per gallon tax increase would add $2.76 to every fill up you make. Let's assume you fill up with fuel every two weeks, that's 26 times over a year. That would make your approximate extra financial outlay $71.76. Assuming you're part of a two car household that would be an additional $143.52 that's coming out of your family budget every year.

As you might imagine there is opposition to the proposed tax increase, at least at that level. Chances are there will be another spirited debate on the issue when it comes up for discussion in the next legislative session.

Until then, make sure you're wearing your seat belt. We'd hate for one our state's horrific and very dangerous potholes to bounce you into the roof of your car.


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