BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – As electric and hybrid cars continue to grow in popularity, Louisiana is working to catch up on how to tax them. How they will do that is shaping up to be a complicated task.
The state gas tax has not been bringing in enough money to cover Louisiana’s transportation projects for some time and it is adding to a growing $18 billion backlog in projects. Electric and hybrid cars are adding to the issue since they make few or no visits to the pump where the tax is collected.
“[It] is decreasing the amount that the Department of Transportation is actually receiving and we think it will continue to decrease the motor fuels tax, which will further hinder DOTD’s ability to meet Louisiana’s transportation needs,” said Gina Brown, performance audit manager at the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.
The Electric Vehicle Task Force has been researching how to tax electric cars to make up for the lost revenue. They’ve considered a per-mile road use tax, a flat payment each year, or putting a tax on public charging stations. A representative with Entergy said the Public Service Commission is reviewing how they will manage the resale of energy for charging stations.
“I think you’re seeing some pretty aggressive progress. The goal last year was to have this in place before or right at the beginning of the legislative session,” said Entergy’s Vice President of Public Affairs Jody Montelaro.
The task force decided it was too soon to make any recommendations for how to write legislation for this issue. They want to keep researching and see what other states do with their programs as many are in the pilot stage right now.
“I think it would be prudent for all of us to kind of continue to keep an open mind, continue to gather the information, and we can do that by extending this task force,” State Sen. Patrick McMath, R-Covington, said.
McMath said he hopes the task force can create a package of bills to tackle the taxing of electric vehicles sometime next year. Some members of the task force want to find a way to not only offset the lost revenue on the gas tax but find a way to get ahead of the backlog.
“If we have to make structural changes, and it seems like we must, let’s at least do so in a way that pays for the backlog and structures us to be able to take care of our needs to maintain our roads,” said State Rep. Gary Carter, D-New Orleans.
The task force will have to get legislative approval to have an extension of time on their work. The legislative session starts on April 10.