Louisiana is facing a dilemma: It has a large and growing backlog of transportation projects, to little revenue coming in to keep up with an aging infrastructure system and the politically unpopular prospect of having to seek an increase in the gas tax.
That is a tough set of circumstances, particularly at a time when taxes are so unpopular that the issue is often a non-started in Baton Rouge.
In the meantime, though, we continue to suffer with substandard roads and bridges and a transportation system that will continue getting worse until the state is able to address pressing and long-term needs.
It is time for our officials in Baton Rouge to at least begin a serious discussion about how to bring in enough money to run the Department of Transportation and Development each year while simultaneously beginning to make headway on the backlog that plagues motorists throughout Louisiana.
There is a growing push from outside of government to force the issue into the public arena. That is a good thing, regardless of whether the Legislature and governor eventually craft some sort of tax plan.
The Louisiana Coalition to Fix our Roads is embarking on a public relations campaign aimed and building up knowledge about the current woeful state of affairs and seeking the public’s support in getting a plan in place that can make our state a better place to live.
“We have to find a solution,” said coalition member Erich Ponti, executive director of the Louisiana Asphalt Pavement Association. “Basically, it is a social media campaign, digital media. “There is so much information and misinformation that it is a long, slow educational process to get the facts out there.”
Meanwhile, though, anti-tax groups are also intent on defeating any effort to raise revenue, arguing that the impulse to raise taxes should not be the only solution when the government faces needs.
There is a case to be made, though, that the current amount of money being spent on roads and bridges is simply too low to keep them in working order for the long haul. If that is the case, there must be a solution before the problems become even more expensive to fix.
Perhaps the state government can rearrange some spending and free up money for infrastructure. But constraints on the budget limit officials’ flexibility over where money will be spent.
However state leaders decide to proceed, it is good to see the conversation advancing. Only through communication and cooperation is anything likely to get done.
Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper, not of any individual.