Governors: Tough for rural states to pay more for highways
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The governors of Louisiana and Mississippi are praising President Donald Trump’s proposal to put more federal money into infrastructure, but they say their rural states would be hard-pressed to pay a bigger share of the tab for projects paid by a combination of federal and state money.
Many highway projects are now paid 80 percent by the federal government and 20 percent by state or local governments. Trump’s proposal would flip that, with the federal government paying 20 percent.
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana and Republican Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi wrote in The Advocate that requiring a larger share from state and local governments “will be difficult for most rural communities to provide.”
“Since 2012, more than 25 states have addressed their funding issues by modernizing their gas tax structure or rates, and for various reasons, our states have not followed that path; thus, we are dependent on federal support,” the governors wrote.
The administration’s plan, released in February, proposes using $200 billion in federal money to leverage more than $1 trillion in local and state tax dollars to fix infrastructure, such as roads, highways, ports and airports.
The Louisiana and Mississippi governors said they agree with Trump’s proposal to shorten the environmental permit process for highway and bridge construction.
“There are no shortages of examples where an accelerated and streamlined environmental permitting process would result in moving a project from concept to construction in a more efficient and expedited fashion,” Edwards and Bryant wrote. “Therefore, we see value in accelerating the environmental process such that we spend less of our dollars on process and more on actually building and repairing infrastructure our citizens can use in their daily lives.”
Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com