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August 11, 2015 5:00 PM, EDT

Louisiana Group Calls for 10-Cent Raise to Fuel Tax

A Louisiana transportation advocacy group is calling for a 10-cent hike to the state's 20-cent gas tax, to raise $250 million to $280 million annually for the state's infrastructure needs.

Louisiana drivers pay 20 cents per gallon for state motor fuels tax; the national average is 31 cents.

Beth Davis, assistant director of financial audit services, told WAFB-TV the state has an estimated backlog of $12 billion in construction projects. It depends on the motor fuels tax as well as federal monies for its fund, and with Congress so far unable to pass a long-term highway bill, the state could be forced to defer maintenance and delay projects.

WHITE PAPER: From Louisiana Good Roads and Transportation Association

"Unless there's some change in the structure of the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) where additional money is dedicated for transportation or changing the allocation of those funds and how they are used," Davis said, "then it's possible that the transportation infrastructure projects needed in the state may not happen."

Retired engineer Ken Perret, president of the Louisiana Good Roads and Transportation Association, called on the candidates who are running for governor to commit to raising the gas tax.

"These candidates have expressed an interest in doing something, but they haven't come up with that plank yet on how they would address the problem," he told WAFB.

Perret said that while Louisiana drivers save $55 a year with a low gas tax, they spend $408 for repairs caused by poor road conditions, according to NOLA.com.