February 8, 2019
The region hosted an important visitor earlier this week, and the message was simple: Please help.
Gov. John Bel Edwards was here to tour our levees and to bring news of the state’s investment of $13 million in a pump station that should benefit the Gibson and Bayou Black area.
But he was also bound to hear some local pleas for state help in protecting our homes and businesses – a process that will require much more money than can be generated at the local level. Even with taxpayers willing to pay for a great deal of levee work, we have been unable to launch the kind of massive effort we will need.
So levee officials wanted the governor to see for himself what we’ve accomplished with the Morganza-to-the-Gulf hurricane protection system and why the system is so vitally important.
“To be able to see the whole system at one time will give us a better appreciation for it and what the central components are that are still missing,” Edwards said. “We are more resource-constrained than we’d like to be. These projects are very, very expensive, and while we have revenue coming in, the revenue is coming in over a long period of time. We’ve got to figure out what do we do now, where do we get the most bang for the buck?”
Edwards’ point is legitimate. As the need for resources stretches far beyond the reach of local taxpayers, it is also likely out of the state’s reach, particularly with the ongoing fiscal troubles that are affecting Louisiana.
He is also correct in pointing out that with a limited pool of money, the state has to try to identify the areas where that money can make the most difference.
One way it can stretch its dollars will be to use local-state projects such as Morganza to count against what Louisiana has to repay to the federal government for work begun after Hurricane Katrina. Edwards said that is still a possibility the state is exploring but that it will hinge getting it approved by the feds.
It is great to see that the governor is aware of the pressing needs that exist along the coast and has a good understanding of how we might proceed with the greatest potential for good.
A local visit from time to time is a good thing, and Edwards will surely take back to Baton Rouge a deeper understanding of why these projects are so important.