President Trump has asked Congress to pass 1.5 trillion-dollar infrastructure funding bill. But will Louisiana see any of those dollars if it passes? State Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson is worried because Louisiana doesn’t have enough state transportation dollars for new projects to receive the federal transportation dollars they are willing to match.
"We hope that Louisiana recognizes the need for additional investment because that is what is going to make us most competitive in achieving some of those dollars."
The state currently has a backlog of 13-billion-dollars in infrastructure repairs and a wish list of projects, including a Mississippi River bridge in Baton Rouge. Wilson says the current state gas tax of 20 cents per gallon makes it difficult to get new projects started even with the help of the federal government.
"It does not make sense for the state to invest in brand new infrastructure if we cannot maintain the existing infrastructure into a state of good repair. So that's the challenge for our state."
Wilson says Louisiana would have been in a better position to capture federal matching dollars if the state legislature would have approved a 17-cent gas tax increase last year that would have raised over 500-million-dollars.
"That's what the gas tax push was about. That's what any effort that we're going to do going forward is going to be about is how capable are we are at completing for these dollars."