Despite criticism, Gov. Bobby Jindal proposes to divert even larger sums of state gasoline tax revenue away from road work next year to instead pay for state police operations.
Lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee learned Tuesday that Jindal’s budget recommendation for the fiscal year that begins July 1 would shift $72 million in gas tax money to cover state trooper costs, an increase of more than $5 million over this year.
That would boost the amount of money steered away from road and bridge work to $313 million over Jindal’s two terms in office, according to data from House budget analyst Daniel Waguespack.
The sidetracking of dollars away from highway projects comes as Louisiana has a growing $12 billion backlog of needed road repairs, infrastructure upgrades and bridge work. And the shifting of gas tax money has impacted which transportation projects get dollars.
Lawmakers have complained about the diversion of the road money, saying drivers expect gas tax dollars to pay for highway improvements. But they haven’t blocked the transfers since they began five years ago, as they’ve grappled with continuing budget problems.
Money generated by Louisiana’s 20-cent-per-gallon gas tax flows into a savings account called the Transportation Trust Fund. More than $574 million generated by the tax, other fees and interest earnings is estimated to be available in the account for the 2015-16 budget year.
All four candidates for governor have said they want to move the dollars back to road and bridge work, to restore public faith in the trust fund. But they’ve not offered ideas for replacing the dollars in state police operations.
SHARED AS PROVIDED: The Lafourche Gazette – March 25, 2015 by MELINDA DESLATTE, Associated Press