Louisiana’s construction backlog now stands at $13.4 billion, says Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson. The figure has grown since Wilson took office in January last year. “People need to understand the backlog is really unmet needs on our system today,” he says in a new episode of The LaPolitics Report that will air next week. “It’s the bridge repairs we need to make. I’ve closed—I think I’m on number 43 right now. Folks don’t like that I’m telling them I’m closing bridges, but there’s an impact of that. And I think that part of really being transparent is telling people what we’re doing and what are the conditions.” Wilson also talks about the not-so-bright future for a possible gas tax increase in the new episode. Lawmakers debated an increase this year, but it failed to gain traction in the House. “Politically speaking, it’s going to be very difficult to do a gas tax,” the secretary says when asked if another bill would be introduced during the next fiscal session. “The big answer is, we haven’t done this for 30 years. We haven’t increased taxes for 30 years for transportation. Everything around us has increased: the cost of doing business, the cost of materials, retirement, health care—all of that’s increased that we have to pay. So I suspect that this is going to be a long course.”
—Freshman Rep. Edmond Jordan, a Democrat who represents portions of the Baton Rouge region, has a new assignment in the lower chamber. He was appointed by the speaker this week to the House Commerce Committee, which has oversight of banking, communications, consumer protections and other policy areas. Jordan, who lives in Brusly, also serves on the House Insurance Committee.
—Gov. John Bel Edwards turns 51 on Saturday. A spokesperson says Edwards’ birthday weekend will be all about the Saints, who face the Patriots on Sunday.
They said it: “Among the things I’ve heard from the Legislature, encouragement on money would not be one of them.” —LCTCS President Monty Sullivan, in The Times-Picayune