Trying to help Louisiana’s ailing highways, a bill that would gradually end most of the money transfers from transportation to State Police breezed through the state House on Monday.
The vote was 92-5.
The proposal, House Bill 208, next faces action in the state Senate.
Under current rules, about $65 million to $70 million from the Transportation Trust Fund is redirected yearly to State Police.
The bill would cut that transfer to $40 million on July 1, $25 million next year and $10 million per year after that.
The state has a backlog of $12 billion of road and bridge projects.
State Rep. Terry Landry, D-Lafayette, former superintendent of State Police and sponsor of HB208, said his travels around the state have made clear that voters will not support spending more money until they are sure transportation is getting the money it is already due.
Landry is a member of the House Transportation Committee and served on a special panel last year that studied ways to improve state aid for roads and bridges.
“One common theme that we heard throughout our travels for the past three years for me is we are raiding the transportation fund,” Landry told the House.
“This is not anti-State Police,” he said. “I have worked with the (Jindal) administration on this bill.
“I have agreed to be as flexible as I can,” Landry said. “I realize it is not about the concept of the bill.
“I think they understand the importance of this $12 billion backlog,” Landry said. “It is just working out the numbers.”
The state faces a $1.6 billion shortfall to maintain spending at current levels.
That means state leaders will have to find at least $25 million this year for State Police if Landry’s bill wins final approval.
The legislation is a modest part of a wide range of efforts.
Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Robert Adley, R-Benton, has proposed accelerating the planned infusion of about $400 million per year into transportation spending.
House Transportation Committee Chairwoman Karen St. Germain, D-Pierre Part, has proposed a 1 cent state sales tax hike that would raise about $7 billion for roads and bridges over a decade.