Tuesday, 17 December 2013 10:33
Louisiana Treasurer Kennedy says use surplus for I-49 South
Written by 

kennedy-officeLouisiana likely will have a surplus from last fiscal year. The state constitution prohibits us from using it for operating expenses like higher education, but we can spend it on infrastructure. We should use it for I-49 South. Here's why.  

Op-ed by Louisiana Treasurer, John Kennedy

  There's good news and bad news about I-49. The good news is the state has secured the funding for I-49 North, the 40 miles from Shreveport to the Arkansas line, and the project will be completed soon. The bad news is we don't have the money yet to complete I-49 South. 

The I-49 South project is basically an upgrade of US Hwy 90 to interstate standards. US 90 runs 140 miles from Lafayette to the Westbank Expressway in New Orleans, touching nine parishes containing 36 percent of Louisiana's population. Eighty percent of the nation's offshore oil and gas supply, almost 30 percent of the country's energy consumption, comes from or through Louisiana. US 90, known as "America's Energy Corridor," makes this possible.   Unfortunately, US 90 has been operating over capacity for years, and by 2030 the deterioration will cause it to fail completely. 

Completion of I-49 North and South will ensure that Louisiana can continue to meet America's energy needs, create an international north-south trade corridor from the Louisiana Gulf Coast to Canada, keep our ports from losing business to Houston, improve hurricane evacuation, relieve traffic congestion, save lives and create over 100,000 jobs. 

It will cost between $2 billion and $5 billion to complete I-49 South, depending upon what the federal government allows us to do. Senator Bret Allain of Franklin, former Senator Mike Michot of Lafayette and former DOTD Secretary Dr. Kam Movassaghi, along with other public officials, business owners and economic development officials, have formed the I-49 South Coalition, and are working diligently on long-term financing options. 

In the meantime, the state has a rare opportunity to do something about I-49 South right now. 

It appears we will have an over $100 million surplus from last fiscal year, which ended June 30, as a result of a late, unanticipated increase in revenue. I would like to spend this money on higher education, but we can't, because this surplus is considered "non-recurring" and under our state constitution can only be spent on a narrow list of things. One of those things is Capital Outlay-like I-49 South. 

If I-49 South really is as important as we say, then all of or a substantial portion of this one-time budget surplus should be spent on it. 

This will be controversial. Louisiana has a $10 billion infrastructure backlog, including hundreds of needed road projects spread throughout the state. We don't have money for them all. That means public officials should do what families and businesses do every day-prioritize. Rather than doing the politically expedient thing of spreading taxpayer money around as many projects as we can, and watering down the soup, we should decide which Capital Outlay projects are the most important and fund those first. 

Now that I-49 North is practically done, I-49 South should be at the top of that list of priorities. 

Spend the surplus on I-49 South. Let's put our money where our mouth is. Louisiana won't regret it.

 

Login to post comments
  • Cat Fights on the Hot Cement Confederate New Orleans statues
  • Ex-Saints, Bears, Bills, NFL Exec, Jim W. Miller discusses NFL Draft tomorrow
  • Trump's new plan; Curtains on tax returns release; 40% say Trump-Russia; Probing Obama admin
  • Watch Louisiana Governor Edwards talk about CAT Tax failure

catRarely, have I seen few issues that have generated as much raw heat, tension, and passion than the Confederate monuments controversy. 

Just as existed during the real civil war, where brothers battled brothers, social media is the battleground, particularly Facebook, pitting friend against friend.

On one side of the tense divide, there are those who are protecting the New Orleans civil war era monuments.  Burnt in effigy, forever, is the symbol of Mayor Mitch Landrieu for up-ending what the monument protectors consider to be the loving civil society of New Orleans.

Lately, events have turned somewhat militaristic.

Some protectors of the Confederate monuments have been staying vigilant, in person and online, even surveilling during the wee hours of the morning, waiting for the next Mayor Landrieu attack. On Sunday morning, with protections of snipers, masked workers and a dumbstruck audience, the worst of all of the monuments was cut and carried., the Liberty Monument. 

Read More

miller nfl live2 5It’s D-Day or Draft Day tomorrow in the NFL.

More specifically, Thursday represents the first day of the NFL draft 2017.

Read More

 

trump curtainsThe major President Trump news of the day focuses upon taxes, not only the tax cuts he is proposing but his own taxes, which he obviously, refuses to unveil.

 

Read More

edwards play money 1

At a press conference today, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said the CAT Tax did not pass the House Ways and Means Committee.  The Governor, in addressing the media said that "the fate of that bill was decided long before we unveiled it".

Read More

latter-blum2

Sen. Appel talks budget, economy

TRUMP TALK

Dead Pelican

Optimized-DeadPelican2 1 1