Edwards outlines proposal to spend $1.6B in federal aid

State News

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. John Bel Edwards on Thursday offered his list of proposals for spending $1.6 billion in new federal coronavirus aid heading to Louisiana, prioritizing the unemployment trust fund and infrastructure projects.

The Democratic governor already had broadly outlined his priorities for the money, but without detailing the specific amounts he’d like steered to each category. Lawmakers meeting in a two-month regular session will decide whether they support his recommendations or take an entirely different approach.

Edwards wants to earmark $630 million to address the state’s bankrupt unemployment trust fund, $400 million to refill the fund and $230 million to repay federal loans used to cover jobless benefits when the fund ran out of money.

On infrastructure, he’s proposing $400 million for road and bridge work, $50 million for ports and $300 million for sewage and water projects.

Edwards would like the remaining dollars sent to tourism marketing efforts: $125 for local convention and visitor bureaus and $20 million to the state Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.

The spending recommendations released by the governor would cover the first half of the $3.2 billion Louisiana state government is estimated to receive from the $1.9 trillion aid package passed by Democrats in Congress earlier this year.

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