ELECTION 2015: Louisiana voters decide on transportation questions

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 10/26/2015

Voters in Louisiana cast ballots over the weekend on multiple constitutional amendments, including two that include road and bridge project funding.

The two questions were added to Saturday’s primary ballot after gaining approval this spring from the Louisiana Legislature. State lawmakers endorsed putting the questions on the ballot in an effort to help address a $12 billion backlog to pay for infrastructure needs.

The first question, Amendment 1, failed to win approval with 53 percent saying no and only 47 percent voting in support. The question called for steering a portion of state mineral revenue, which includes oil and gas, into a transportation account.

Currently, about $21 million in mineral money is instead deposited into the state’s rainy day fund.

Voter approval would have routed about $21 million in revenue during the next five years for the state highway system and the Louisiana Intermodal Connector Program. The transfers would have begun in fiscal year 2017-18.

Up to $100 million annually would have been applied for transportation in later years.

Amendment 2 on the statewide ballot was approved with 53 percent of voters endorsing a plan to allow state funds to be invested in a transportation infrastructure bank.

The setup covers the use of public funds to establish the new account to provide a revolving loan program to local governments. All state funds in the new account will be used solely for transportation projects.

A similar ballot question was defeated in fall 2014. This year’s version was aided by the Legislature going ahead and establishing an infrastructure bank during the 2015 regular session.

Infrastructure banks are in place in 30 states. The banks are owned by states and offer loans and credit to public and private transportation infrastructure projects.

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