Final budget deal left out key funding for the Port of NOLA. Governor Edwards is not happy

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Another sign of the chaos in the final hours of the state legislature last week: a big cut in funding for a new terminal at the Port of New Orleans. Governor John Bel Edwards says he is not happy with the cut. Many lawmakers differed on raising the state’s spending cap, and the port sits in the district of one who voted “no.” Edwards says such “political payback” has been known to happen before…:

“…and so you can understand and I can understand why there was an effort, I think, to make sure that certain legislators weren’t able to deliver certain projects back at home.”

New Orleans is one of the country’s largest ports, and was on track to start a billion dollar container terminal just south of the Crescent City. About $130-million to get things started was stripped from the state’s annual construction bill at the last minute; $4-million to be spent in the next few months. Governor Edwards says political gamesmanship now threatens a needed economic development project…:

“I don’t think we should have targeted any state or regional economic development projects, LIKE the new container terminal that we need to build in the worst way…”

Edwards says $800-million in private financing has been dedicated to the Port project, and now the state has egg it its face as no state money is budgeted to proceed. He says he does have a plan to salvage near-term funding to get the project on track…:

“I will be asking the legislature to move $4-million from the Capital Outlay Savings Account TO the Department of Transportation for the Port of New Orleans.”

He says lawmakers MUST assure the project is properly funded in future state budgets.

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