Gov. Edwards Proposes Spending Surplus On Infrastructure, Maintenance

Mar 29, 2018

Louisiana is currently facing a $700 million budget shortfall, but ended last year with a surplus.

Gov. John Bel Edwards presented his plan for how to spend that extra $120 million. 

"These funds are considered one-time money that can only be used on one-time expenses, and should only be used on one-time expenses," the Governor said at a press conference Wednesday.

Louisiana’s constitution dictates about $30 million must go to the rainy day fund, essentially a savings account for the state. Another $12 million will pay down state employee retirement debt. Edwards is splitting the remaining $80 million a couple of ways.

$10 million is going towards deferred maintenance on state buildings, like college campuses. The state's backlog for these types of projects totals $3 billion.

"I’ve seen firsthand the crumbling buildings, washed out roads and bridges and moldy libraries at LSU, Grambling, Southern," said Edwards.

The majority of the surplus will pay for more than 20 road and bridge projects around the state.

He said this surplus is the result of an improving economy in Louisiana.

“Jobs are being created.  In fact," he pointed out, "we're down to the lowest unemployment in 10 years. We're also seeing wages beginning to increase and oil prices have risen and stabilized."

The Governor's plan is being presented to the Legislature, who will take it up during this regular session.

The state is expected to end this fiscal year with another budget surplus of about $150 million. But Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, the state's chief budget officer, warned the money shouldn't be used to address the looming budget shortfall, "because that's not the intended purpose of one-time money, and we’ve steadfastly refused to use one-time money to balance a budget."