Louisiana considers swapping gas tax with mileage fees

DOTD to study vehicle tracking tech

By: - February 15, 2023 6:23 pm
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Louisiana is eyeing a pilot program that would charge drivers a mileage fee as a way to replace or augment the gasoline tax.

Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson unveiled the idea during the Louisiana Legislature’s Electric Vehicle Task Force meeting Wednesday. 

Wilson, who announced his retirement later in the day, told lawmakers his department is looking into pilot programs that use technology to track how many miles and on what roads a specific vehicle travels. The data is then used to calculate precisely how much a driver should pay in taxes for transportation infrastructure. 

The technology comes in several forms, Wilson said. Some programs use a cell phone app while others rely on internal vehicle data or other devices. The pilot program would likely start with DOTD and other state-owned vehicles before being opened to the general public, he said. 

Lawmakers seem receptive to the idea as they search for solutions to replace dwindling fuel tax revenue that’s the result of a growing number of electric vehicles and increasingly efficient gasoline vehicles on Louisiana’s roadways.

The Legislative Auditor’s Office issued a report Wednesday that said the state would need to charge drivers a $116 annual fee for every gasoline vehicle and a $271 fee for every electric vehicle to cover the current $18.8 billion backlog in highway and bridge needs. 

“It’s not necessarily a fiscal cliff, but we’re walking slowly towards the sea and we can’t swim,” said Sen. Patrick McMath, R-Covington. “We’ve got to address this in some shape, form or fashion.”

Last year, legislators enacted new annual fees of $60 for every hybrid vehicle and $110 for electric vehicles registered in the state. 

Louisiana is not alone in facing the problem. Oregon has implemented a similar program in which the state waives vehicle registration fees, which are often hundreds of dollars, in exchange for participants enrolling in the program that charges 1.9 cents per mile.


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Wesley Muller
Wesley Muller

Wes Muller traces his journalism roots back to 1997 when, at age 13, he built and launched a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. In the years since then, he has freelanced for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans and worked on staff at the Sun Herald in Biloxi, WAFB-9News CBS in Baton Rouge, and the Enterprise-Journal in McComb, Mississippi.