Baton Rouge Representative Steve Carter has a bill that would eventually pump billions of dollars into the state’s crumbling infrastructure by raising the gas tax by 18 cents a gallon over the next 12 years. Carter says his bill would make sure that every cent raised would go towards fixing bridges, building roads, and other vital needs.

“The dollars cannot be used by the DOTD for salaries, or benefits, or retirement, or anything like that. The monies will actually go into a sub-fund that will be spent on the traffic situations in this state.”

The current gas tax is 20 cents a gallon, and if passed the legislation would raise that by six cents in the first year.

In one week lawmakers are set to descend on a Baton Rouge that has found itself shutdown over the last week by traffic gridlock. Carter says he understands his colleague’s hesitation about new taxes, but the traffic nightmare in the capital should be a persuasive argument.

“I don’t like taxes any more than anybody else, but the problem is, what we’ve been experiencing over the last three or four days is just miserable around here. The only way we can do it is we have to find the funds somewhere.”

The legislation mandates that certain projects, including a new Baton Rouge Mississippi River Bridge, and a new I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge, are built using the money.

A past effort by Carter to pass a similar tax failed to even make it to the floor, but the Capital City Republican says he’s heard from lawmakers since then who have changed their mind.

“They said, you know, your idea really was a good one. Maybe the timing was bad, and I just didn’t have the courage at that time to pull the trigger and say yes, let’s vote for a gasoline tax.”

The legislation would also redirect the .45 percent sales tax, passed last year and set to expire in 2025, into the infrastructure fund.