A bill that would phase out most of the movement of state dollars from a fund for roads and bridges to State Police won approval Thursday in the Louisiana Senate Transportation Committee.
The measure, House Bill 208, earlier won House approval 92-5.
It next faces action in the Senate Finance Committee because of its impact on the state budget.
Under current rules, up to $70 million annually is moved from the Transportation Trust Fund — a key source of road and bridge aid — to State Police.
The bill would trim that to a maximum of $40 million starting on July 1, $25 million the next year and a maximum of $10 million per year in future years.
State Rep. Terry Landry, D-Lafayette, sponsor of the bill, said the annual transfer is a recurring topic among taxpayers at a time when the state faces a $12 billion backlog of transportation needs.
“One common thing is that trust fund is being raided for what it was not intended,” said Landry, a member of the House Transportation Committee and former superintendent of State Police.
The panel added an amendment to the bill aimed at ensuring that State Police will keep roughly what it collects annually from the road and bridge fund through other state revenue sources.
State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said the transfer money amounts to 49 percent of his patrol budget and nearly 90 percent of fuel costs.
The state has diverted $418 million from the transportation fund to State Police since 2005 according to state budget documents.
Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Robert Adley, R-Benton, said Landry’s bill is one piece in an array of bills to boost state aid for roads and bridges.
Adley said that while State Police is not to blame for the annual transfers, “we have gone way overboard” in stripping dollars from the transportation fund.
“Hopefully, we will get this resolved and everybody is satisfied,” he said.
Adley hopes the change will help ensure that the state spends at least $70 million per year for road and bridge maintenance.
The state House on Wednesday is set to debate a bill that would raise $300 million per year for transportation by increasing the state gasoline tax 10 cents per gallon.
Another measure awaiting House action would boost the state sales tax by 1 cent to raise an additional $675 million per year for 16 major projects.
That list includes construction of a new bridge over the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge.
Both bills require two-thirds support, which is a huge hurdle.
The session ends on June 11.
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