WASHINGTON, D.C. (WAFB) - Louisiana's governor says it will be "difficult" for his state to benefit from parts of the Trump administration's infrastructure plan.
Governor John Bel Edwards was on hand at the White House Monday when the president unveiled what he described as the "biggest" and "boldest" plan ever. The proposal aims to generate roughly $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investment over a decade. "Our roads are in bad shape, and we're going to get the roads in great shape," the president said during a meeting with state and local leaders.
However, the proposal comes with a catch. Of the $1.5 trillion, only about $200 billion is from the federal government. That leaves it to the states and local governments to front the rest. Specifically, to unlock certain federal funding under the plan, the local entity could have to cover roughly 80 percent of a project's costs. Typically, the federal government will cover about half of the cost of major construction projects and as much as 80 percent of highway projects.
With Louisiana's budget in a crunch, Edwards expressed concern the state may get left behind when it comes to this new Trump initiative.
Last year, the state legislature shelved a plan to raise the state gas tax. The governor said if they had passed it, Louisiana would "certainly be in a better position" for the White House proposal. "We would get credit from the administration here in Washington for having done something recently to generate revenue," he said.
Private business could also chip in some money, using tolls to recoup the cash, but again, the governor was not optimistic. "We don't have the density of population, the volume of traffic to allow that profit motive to really work in our favor," Edwards said.
There were, however, parts of the proposal the governor did point to as being potentially helpful for the state. For example, the plan calls for speeding up the permitting process, in some cases cutting it down from ten years to two years. The governor said that could help with coastal restoration efforts.
The plan also sets aside roughly $50 billion for rural projects, money Edwards said could be a boon for Louisiana. "We have 48 bridges that were closed by [DOTD Sec. Shawn] Wilson last year, four more this year. They were built by Franklin Roosevelt during the Depression," he said.
The president's plan is merely a starting point. Now, Congress gets to have its say.