A movement is growing across the nation to rebuild our aging roads and bridges. Serious
conversations of over a trillion dollars in federal money over the next ten years. President Trump
made this promise when he was a candidate and this program is gaining momentum across the
nation. Anyone traveling Louisiana’s roads and bridges doesn’t need to be told our system is in a
steep decline. Our system deficits in structure and function are obvious to out of town guests and
longtime citizens. These long overdue repairs are necessary.
Trump’s plan calls for heavy investments by state and local governments for most of the
infrastructure spending. It seems to favor those states who have invested recently with streams of
revenue dedicated to roads and bridges. States who want to leverage their infrastructure
investments are developing streams of revenue to match the requirements of this upcoming
program. States that can’t or won’t invest in this partnership will be left out on the front-end
matching funds, but they will be responsible for paying off this new national debt. Being left out
is an indefensible position. It’s an issue all state legislatures must address, sooner rather than
This plan comes at a difficult time. Public trust in the legislature is at an all time low- but the
legislature is the only body that can prepare Louisiana to participate in Trump’s plan.
Public distrust was evident last year. The voters instructed the state government to spend
transportation taxes on roads and bridges. This measure passed the legislature overwhelmingly
and many saw it as a first step in regaining the public trust over wasting transportation dollars. In
October 2017 a Constitutional Amendment was passed by voters concerning any new fuel taxes.
The fund and its restrictions were set up before any revenue was allocated- this in an of itself of
evidence of the distrust of government.
The measure required that money in the Construction Subfund be used by the state and local
governments for constructing and maintaining transportation infrastructure projects. The new law
prohibited money in the Subfund from being used to pay employee wages and retirement
benefits. The public spoke loudly by passing this measure that they are fed up with transportation
taxes not being used to fix or build new roads and bridges. Anyone surprised by this vote has
been living under a rock. Raiding transportation funds for other programs must come to a stop.
It was also a clear signal that a “trust but verify” relationship is emerging. Many legislators ran
on fixing roads, but public trust must be restored first. This amendment wasn’t the entire
solution, but it was a clear first step to address the long-term problems of public distrust of
government and government’s limited role that includes road and bridge repairs.