SPONSORED: That Trillion-Dollar Infrastructure Package

Building bridges may be Washington D.C.’s greatest undertaking of 2018 – both literally and figuratively.

“Infrastructure – the nation desperately needs to look at it,” said Rodney Alexander, a former congressman and The Picard Group’s senior director of federal affairs.

Emily Bacque, TPG’s director of federal affairs, agreed that a trillion-dollar infrastructure package, the details of which could roll out as early as these first few months of 2018, would impact significantly both the nation and the state of Louisiana including highways, drinking water, sewer projects, roadways, waterways and airports.

“It could include $200 billion in direct funds and $800 billion leveraged from state and local sources,” Bacque said.

Other than the dollar figures, there has been little detail given to the structure of the infrastructure plan the Trump administration has been discussing.

“It’s all speculation at this point because the administration has not released the details,” Bacque said, noting the dollar amount has been released along with a few ideas that point toward some focus on rural areas, which would be of benefit to Louisiana.

But, even a hefty price tag of a trillion dollars doesn’t go far to cover every state, which leaves questions about who and where funds will be targeted toward. She says one of the more interesting aspects of the talks includes transformative projects, which means they would transform the way infrastructure works.

Think Elon Musk-inspired ideas that cover projects along the lines of high-speed rail.

“We are all waiting to see what these transformative projects look like,” Bacque said.

But, the greatest questions surrounding infrastructure are not even on the locations or types of projects, but rather on how to fund them. An otherwise bipartisan matter like building bridges and bettering roadways takes a sharp partisan turn when talks turn to paying for such projects with conservatives eyeing the option of carving out entitlement programs and reallocating to infrastructure as an option for funding.

“We ought to be at a state level and federal level engaged in investigating more in the public-private partnerships,” Alexander said.

The option for private investment could pair with toll roads for an option to fund improvements, Alexander said.

“People that take toll roads will pay to go down it if it meets their needs and what difference is it who gets that money back — if it’s the investment firm or the state as long as we can go down the road safely,” he said. “The question is where will the money come from?”

The big question in funding is likely to come from entitlement reforms, which Alexander said should begin by properly identifying “entitlement.”

“We need to redefine entitlement and what that is. For example, Medicare – we all pay into Medicare so you’re entitled to some of it at some point. Then you have food stamps, welfare, Medicaid, free telephone – those are programs funded by taxpayers that are a gift from the taxpayers but considered entitlements. The court systems have a big role in that now.”

Balancing people and infrastructure can be a tricky endeavor. Alexander points to the example of cutting funding for rural healthcare for use to build better roads.

“If you deprive someone of rural healthcare for a road in a rural area, what does it matter if you’re sick but can’t travel down the road, you can’t get to the healthcare even if it’s available,” he said. “There’s a lot to be concerned about when you say you’re going to reform entitlement programs and use that money for better things. How much better are they? Infrastructure is important. But, at what expense? It’s issues that have to be addressed as we weigh in on this — and you put an election in the middle of it, that makes it even more complicated.”

Click here to learn more about The Picard Group

LOWDOWN: The Dogs of Louisiana Politics

That dog won't hunt. (We hear this quote in the Capitol quite a bit.) This is a real dog and pony show. (Attorney General Jeff Landry has

LOWDOWN: Cooking With The Chairman

In the latest episode of The LaPolitics Lowdown we travel to southwest Louisiana to learn how to cook the perfect hunting camp appetizer

SPONSORED: That Trillion-Dollar Infrastructure Package

Building bridges may be Washington D.C.’s greatest undertaking of 2018 – both literally and figuratively. “Infrastructure – the nation

#HBD Trackers!

— Tuesday 01/09: Late President Richard Milhous Nixon (1913), LaPolitics publisher Jeremy Alford, Kevin Roig, Kelli Spillers

The Beltway Beat

— Who’s the richest elected official from Louisiana serving on Capitol Hill today? According to a review of federal disclosure information,

Political Chatter

— Via Rep. Julie Stokes: “Last night, I received a phone call from my doctor confirming lab results. As a result of my surgery on January

Regents Has a New Chair, New Member

After this week’s meeting, the Louisiana Board of Regents, which oversees public higher education, has a whole new look. Former district

Schroder Still Focused on “Checkbook”

When Treasurer John Schroder was running for the statewide-elected office he was sworn into last month, he promised voters a website where

Landrieu’s Very Shaky Start

It was exactly two decades ago this month (January 2017) when Louisiana found itself sending a new U.S. senator to Washington for only the

Another Year, Another Shot

The coming year will provide voters with new opportunities to get involved in government, not only in their polling locations but also at

The LaPolitics Christmas Card

SPONSORED: Christmas On The Hill

Christmas spirit and good cheer may abound this time of year. There are beautiful trees of gargantuan proportions tinseled and trimmed, and

LOWDOWN: The Officially Official Side Of The Legislature

Think the Legislature has a tough time voting on taxes? Try the official state jelly. (That decision was so tough lawmakers picked

Broadwater Resigns From House

Rep. Chris Broadwater, a Republican from Hammond, has resigned from the House to spend more time with his family and to focus on his law

SPONSORED: First Lady, In Holiday Mode

First Lady Donna Edwards brings more than her beloved holiday décor to Baton Rouge. She also brings a familial tradition and a taste of her

Governor Surprises House GOP Retreat

Members of the House Republican Delegation gathered in New Orleans today for a policy retreat, but they haven't been meeting alone. Gov.

The Beltway Beat

— Congressman Garret Graves on President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Army Corps of Engineers: “I’ll be very candid. This nomination was

Political Chatter

— [Hello. You have exactly three months until the start of the 2018 regular session. This message will self destruct in 20 seconds...]  —

LOWDOWN: The Bird & Carter Caucuses

They say birds of a feather flock together. But what about featherless legislators with bird-like names? Also, how many Carters does

SPONSORED: A Date Which Will Live in Infamy

Despite the horrors of the day, the attack on Pearl Harbor (Dec. 7, 1941) shaped both the generation who survived it and their descendants

#HBD TRACKERS!

— Tuesday 12/05: Former Congressman Rodney Alexander, Baton Rouge Councilman Buddy Amoroso and Charles Landry — Wednesday 12/06:

Remarks from Mary Landrieu

Former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu was presented with the Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award this past weekend by the Louisiana Center for

The Beltway Beat

— Congressman Ralph Abraham went duck hunting with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue this past weekend, in a couple of different blinds in

Political Chatter

— Gov. John Bel Edwards and First Lady Donna Edwards hosted their Christmas festivities at the Governor’s Mansion today. — The First

LOWDOWN: Crowley Vs. Winnfield (Where’s The Real Political Muscle?)

Which Louisiana city has the best political crop? Is it Crowley or Winnfield? Or is it somewhere else? State Rep. John Stefanski of