Three bills that would offer modest increases in state aid for roads and bridges neared final approval Monday.
The measures are Senate Bills 122 and 221. The Senate bills won House approval 91-0 and 93-0, respectively. Both now face final reviews in the Senate, which earlier approved similar versions.
House Bill 208 also was approved later in the day.
The legislation stems from an interim study on transportation needs and represent short-term fixes after efforts to finance sweeping improvements in roads and bridges died in the House.
One of the measures — Senate Bill 122 — is designed to move another $100 million per year to the Transportation Trust Fund without endangering state finances.
The other proposal — Senate Bill 221 — would undo plans to move up to $400 million per year in future sales tax revenue from car and truck purchases from Louisiana’s general revenue fund to one for transportation only.
Instead, road, highway, port and other needs would be eligible for an extra $100 million annually, with the first $70 million designated for transportation maintenance.
Under a 2008 state law, up to $400 million annually is scheduled to be moved from general revenue to transportation but only if state revenue reaches a certain level.
When that will happen is in dispute.
In addition, political problems redirecting so much money also sparked questions on whether the transfer would take place, especially amid recurring state budget problems.
“We knew that is too big a hit,” said House Transportation Committee Chairwoman Karen St. Germain, D-Pierre Part, who handled both bills on the House floor.
Sherri LeBas, secretary for the state Department of Transportation and Development, has questioned the legislation and said DOTD is banking on the $400 million injection of state aid.
The state faces a $12 billion backlog of transportation needs.
In another development, the state Senate voted 36-0 for a bill that would gradually phase out most of the movement of transportation dollars to State Police.
The measure, House Bill 208, now faces what could be a final vote in the state House.
The state now moves about $70 million per year from the Transportation Trust Fund to State Police.
Rep. Terry Landry, D-Lafayette, sponsor of the legislation, contends the practice is hurting efforts to raise more dollars for roads and bridges because taxpayers often complain about how dollars are allocated.
The bill would trim the transfer to a maximum of $40 million starting on July 1, $25 million the next year and up to $10 million per year in future years.
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