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Basic Infrastructure Needs Overwhelm Federal, State, Local Governments

July 1, 2016

small 1According to the Baton Rogue, La. Advocate, Louisiana has “road and bridge problems.”

Specifically, the state transportation department found lawmakers need to come up with additional $12.7 billion to address unmet infrastructure needs. (That figure includes funding needed to ensure the basic safety of some structures, but does not include funding for certain new “mega” projects.) The needs are so great that Gov. John Bel Edwards has appointed a special 18-member task force comprised of state legislators and business leaders to explore “financial solutions” to the state’s problems.

The Advocate says the options for coming up with the money include “tax hikes and other revenue-raising measures,” including tolls, asking local governments to increase infrastructure spending, and public-private partnerships. Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson said, “This task force will be researching, identifying and making recommendations for achieving increased levels of recurring funding to address the transportation backlog.”

The task force’s recommendations will be submitted to the state legislature during its 2017 session.

Louisiana is certainly not the only state in the nation that does not have the funding necessary to cover basic infrastructure needs. According to The Wall Street Journal, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has found, “The U.S. needs to invest $1.4 trillion in infrastructure between now and 2025 and $5.2 trillion by 2040 … almost double what the country is projected to spend over that period.”

If federal, state, and local lawmakers don’t address this yawning divide, the country stands to lose $4 trillion in economic activity and 2.5 million jobs by 2025 and $14.2 trillion in economic activity and 5.8 million jobs by 2040.

The fact that the federal, state, and local governments cannot come up with enough funding to address basic infrastructure needs, including ensuring existing roads and bridges are safe for drivers, is proof that policymakers need to leave broadband infrastructure investment to the private sector, especially since municipal networks like Lafayette, La.’s continue to struggle. (LUS Fiber also lost a contract with local schools last year because it didn’t provide proper paperwork.)

Taxpayers just can’t afford it otherwise.