Texas and Louisiana charge virtually the same gas tax. So why does Texas have better roads?
Louisiana drivers pay about 20 cents per gallon in state taxes for gasoline, which ranks 43rd in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation.
Drivers in Texas, which comes in No. 44 on the list, pay about the same amount. So what’s with the difference?
State officials mentioned a few reasons in a Twitter conversation Wednesday.
• State Sen. Rick Ward and state Rep. Tanner Magee, both Republicans, noted that Texas dedicates a portion of its general sales taxes to roads.
• Texas also uses a lot of toll roads, Ward and Magee noted.
• Louisiana has “drastically different geotechnical conditions and more water,” so its dollar doesn’t go as far, added Shawn Wilson, who leads the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.
• Texas “made additional investments that kept up with the cost of inflation,” Wilson says, adding that the state gas tax has lost half its value since 1990.
Recent efforts to raise Louisiana’s gas tax have stalled in the Legislature, though lawmakers this year approved Magee’s proposal to shift about $300 million in annual vehicle sales tax revenue to transportation projects. The recent federal infrastructure legislation is expected to be worth about $6 billion to Louisiana over five years.
California has the highest gas taxes in the nation while Alaska has the lowest, according to the Tax Foundation. Among nearby states, Mississippi has the lowest gas taxes and is 48th nationally.
This story originally appeared in a Dec. 22 issue of Daily Report. To keep up with Baton Rouge business and politics, subscribe to the free Daily Report e-newsletter here.