Sen. LaFleur supports proposed gas tax bill

By: ELIZABETH WEST
Associate Editor

BATON ROUGE – The promised House Bill 632, which would increase Louisiana’s gas tax by 17 cents per gallon, was officially filed on Tuesday during the 2017 La. Regular Legislative Session.
Lawmakers estimate that the tax increase that La. citizens will pay statewide will provide an additional $510 million annually for the state’s highways and bridges.
According to La. Senator Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte, “the tax would support infrastructure recommendations” from the Governor’s Task Force on Transportation.
The senator also stated that the rural areas were “well represented” on the task force, which makes him “feel very confident that the rural areas will be taken care of.”
Although he says there are many, some of the roads in Evangeline Parish that LaFleur would like to see receive a face life are La. Highway. 10, La. Hwy. 13 and U.S. Hwy. 167 even though it is a federal highway.
LaFleur said, “At the federal level there is money available for us to draw down, which means we’d get our fair share of federal monies for federal roads. However we (State of La.) would have to put up a certain amount.
“Under the current revenue that is dedicated to roads in La., we will leave money on the table in Washington unless we pass this tax. That money would be primarily for federal roads like U.S. 167.”
With confidence that roads will be repaired throughout the State if House Bill 632 is passed, LaFleur stated, “I am for the gas tax because if there is anything that people demand as a basic obligation of government it’s roads. The reason why is because you have to travel on them everyday to go to work, to go to school, to go to church, etc.”
Before House Bill 632 can become law though, it will require a two-thirds majority vote from both the La. House and Senate.
Other major items being discussed during the session will consist of no longer offering certain tax exemptions for businesses and doing away with the death penalty.
LaFleur said, “There are tons of exemptions on the books for the business community. We granted those exemptions and we pay the consequences for that now.
“There are tax credits where in many cases it’s a credit that we pay to the business.”
When it comes to the death penalty, LaFleur stated that “it cost about $10 million a year” to house individuals on death row, and “currently we have no mechanism by which to put someone to death.”
LaFleur, who claims to be indifferent about the death penalty, then continued, “We have lethal injection but we are not able to obtain the drugs to put people to death because drug companies will not sell them to us. Their reason is probably because they are against the death penalty or they are worried that the drug won’t work because it would be used in a way that the drug is not designed to be used. There is not a manufacturer that creates death drugs.”
According to LaFleur, the State is “right now being sued by indigents, who are criminal defendants that don’t have lawyers because we are not putting in enough money to protect their constitutional rights.”
If you ask the senator, doing away with the death penalty could help fix that problem.
LaFleur said, “If we could save the $10 million and use it to pay for the people not on death row to have protection we will fix a budget problem because we wouldn’t have the lawsuits.”
According to LaFleur, there are solutions to the State’s current financial problem, but you may have to think practically to figure them out.
LaFleur said, “As the finance chairman I am looking at things from a practical standpoint. We have a slow downed economy so we have to look everywhere to see how we can fix budget problems like doing away with the death penalty could.”

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