A coalition of contractors and others said Wednesday they plan to push a $300 million per year gas tax hike in 2021 after an earlier effort died without a vote in the state House or Senate.

The effort is being launched by the Louisiana Coalition to Fix Our Roads, whose president is former Baton Rouge State Rep. Erich Ponti.

Rep. Jack McFarland, R-Jonesboro, has agreed to handle the legislation during the 2021 regular legislative session, which begins in April.

The state has a $14 billion backlog of road and bridge needs.

But the most recent push to boost the gas tax died in 2017 after a lengthy study.

It was led in part by Shawn Wilson, secretary for the state Department of Transportation and Development but Gov. John Bel Edwards, Wilson's boss, largely stayed out of the fray.

Wilson and others often note that the state gas tax has remained unchanged for three decades, and that Louisiana road and bridge conditions are regularly criticized and the target of daily congestion in Baton Rouge and elsewhere.

The secretary said Wednesday he has not seen the details of the proposal.

Lawmakers cool to the idea said their constituents have told them they are not interested in paying more at the gas pump, despite any road failings.

The 2017 plan would have raised $510 million per year.

The latest proposal would boost the state gas tax by 10 cents per gallon initially -- $300 million per year -- and then a hike of two cents every other year as an inflation guard until 2033 -- 22 cents higher in all.

Any such increase requires the approval of two-thirds of the state House and Senate, always a major challenge.

Motorists today pay 38.4 cents per gallon in gasoline taxes, including 20 cents per gallon in state charges.

Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, said earlier this year that he doubts the Legislature will boost the gas tax during the next four years.

Cortez is former chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.

"For years the consensus has been that we need tort reform, tax reform and a good transportation system to reach our economic potential," McFarland said in a statement.

"Achieving those goals is a bipartisan priority for this Legislature."

McFarland also noted in an interview that Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas are among the states that have boosted their gas taxes in recent years.

"Everybody has passed an increase in their revenue for roads but not us," he said. "And we will continue to be last on every list until we decide we are willing to invest."

Email Will Sentell at wsentell@theadvocate.com.