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Blanco Public Policy Center at UL Lafayette launches policy briefs series

Posted at 1:59 PM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 15:19:06-04

By UL Lafayette Office of Communications and Marketing

A public policy brief produced by the Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette compares transportation infrastructure spending in the state to national trends.

The Blanco Public Policy Center’s “Funding Infrastructure in Louisiana” also analyzes the long-term economic impact of increased investment in the state’s highways, roads and bridges.

The Blanco Center contributes interdisciplinary, independent research to a host of public policy areas, including education, poverty and economic opportunity, criminal justice reform, governmental ethics and health care.

“Evidence-based data and research about the impact of using state dollars to address areas of concern is crucial in establishing priorities for fostering economic growth in Louisiana,” said Dr. Stephen Barnes, the Blanco Public Policy Center Center’s director.

According to “Funding Infrastructure in Louisiana,” almost half of the 17,500 miles of highways and interstate maintained by the state are rated poor or mediocre. Fourteen percent of Louisiana’s 12,982 highway bridges are also considered structurally deficient.

In fiscal year 2019, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development calculated a $14.8 billion backlog of infrastructure projects awaiting funding. Such projects are typically funded with a blend of state revenue and federal funds.

Louisiana’s base gas tax, however, has lost significant purchasing power since the current rate was established in 1984. In Louisiana, state funds cover 49% of its transportation infrastructure projects; state funds cover 73% of such projects in the other states, according to the national average.

Erich Ponti, president of the Louisiana Coalition to Fix Our Roads, said the public policy brief offers “straightforward assessments about where our state’s transportation infrastructure stands and underscores a need for targeted funding.”

The “Funding Infrastructure in Louisiana”policy brief can be read on the Blanco Center’s website; it was posted this week in conjunction with the beginning of the 2021 Louisiana legislative session, which began Monday.

The “Blanco Center Policy Briefs" will continue after the session ends on Thursday, June 10, as part of an ongoing series to inform policy makers and the public, Barnes said.

“They’re designed to provide high level summaries of research and data related to important policy issues as part of the Blanco Center’s commitment to advancing evidence-based public policy to help foster informed debate.”

Troy Wayman, One Acadiana president and CEO, said investment in transportation infrastructure creates a ripple effect, enhancing access to markets, labor and key locations that leads long-term economic growth.

“Investing in infrastructure unlocks economic development opportunities that will pay dividends in Acadiana and across the state, while providing vital improvements to safety and quality of life,” Wayman said.

The Blanco Center and One Acadiana established a strategic partnership to advance their shared missions – improving and informing local, regional and state policies. An emphasis on increasing educational attainment and enhancing economic opportunity are two key areas of focus.

The center was established in 2018 in honor of Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, a UL Lafayette alumna and the only woman to serve as Louisiana’s chief executive.

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