At a recent America’s Wetland Foundation Coastal Summit, Governor John Bel Edwards looked ahead to the Legislature’s next regular session, which starts April 10th. During that session, the Legislature will vote on the state’s newest Coastal Master Plan.
That plan, says Governor Edwards, is "no longer purely an academic exercise. We’re not talking about theory. We’re about to start doing large-scale projects."
The Master Plan is updated every five years. In this newest version, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority calls for a $50 billion investment in coastal projects over the next fifty years. The $50 billion has not been identified. Part of the funding will come from the BP settlement, while the remainder is dependent on a share of oil and gas revenues.
In this next session the Legislature will also be adopting the next annual budget. The Governor says he hopes to protect coastal funding.
"There are not going to be any proposed cuts for Coastal Funding to address what will be yet another shortfall. The most important thing I can do is safeguard the funding stream they do have and protect them from any runs on their money,” said Governor Edwards.
Revenue is going to be $440 million less than what’s needed to continue all state services at their current level. An additional $17 million is expected in the Coastal Trust Fund. But as the state continues to confront these revenue shortfalls, Edwards says no dollar is safe.
"When we’re extremely short, a dollar from anywhere gives you flexibility somewhere," said Edwards. "We have to have enough revenue recurring in Louisiana to satisfy our most important priorities and our most important investments, like coastal restoration."