Louisiana bills call for more road and bridge money

| 4/5/2006

A Louisiana state lawmaker has introduced a package of bills that call for sending more money to the state’s roads and bridges.

Among the measures introduced by Rep. Eddie Lambert, R-Prairieville, is a bill that would establish a Highway Improvement Program Fund for the state. Under HB728, the fund would receive a portion of truck and trailer registration and licensing fees and taxes that now are used to pay Louisiana’s general expenses.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development could only spend the money on state roads that are ineligible for federal assistance.

“I’m trying to get some of our needs … funded. It would be for maintenance and capital improvements, including expanding highway lanes,” Lambert told The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge.

The Highway Improvement Program Fund would receive 25 percent of state proceeds from the truck fees and taxes for fiscal year 2007. The percentage would increase by 25 percent each year until 2010.

Lambert has also offered two constitutional amendments and their companion state laws.

They rely on the establishment of a Highway Improvement Program Fund and money from a variety of sources.

One proposed amendment to the state’s constitution – HB647 – would require 10 percent of any increases in the official state revenue forecast to be deposited into the highway fund, The Advocate reported. After the state’s rainy-day fund hit its cap, a second proposed amendment – HB697 – would send 25 percent of the overflow into the fund, too.

The revenue would be used to fund “maintenance and capacity improvements, including additional lanes and intersection improvements of roads and bridges of the state and federal highway systems,” Lambert wrote.

The measures are all in the House Appropriations Committee.