Dropping oil prices continue to impact state budget _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Aerial of the State Capitol building and grounds.

Lawmakers are launching their latest effort to try to chip away at a $12 billion backlog of road and bridge repair and improvement work across Louisiana.

An eight-member task force created by the Legislature meets Wednesday, seeking ideas for drumming up new transportation funding.

The state is struggling with a stagnant gasoline tax that hasn’t kept pace with construction inflation and a disinterest in raising new taxes to fill the gaps in roadwork.

Lawmakers charged the Transportation Funding Task Force with looking for enterprising ways to tackle the backlog problem. The panel includes four lawmakers, Louisiana’s transportation secretary and representatives of the construction and engineering industries.

Recommendations from the task force are due Jan. 15. The panel faces a difficult job, since ideas from previous study groups have gone nowhere.