By: Jeremy Alford
The biggest surprise in Gov. Bobby Jindals call for this weeks special session may be a $300 million commitment for coastal restoration and hurricane protection. According to the governors office, its the single largest such dedication in the history of Louisiana. For the record, former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, came close with a $200 million allotment last year. Of course, if history is any indication, such attention to south Louisiana could draw growls from upstate lawmakers who feel slighted. Thats why the chairmen of the natural resources committees in both the House and Senate believe a large portion of the money that Jindal, a Republican, has earmarked for transportation in the special session will head to the piney north. The two panels are charged with overseeing most coastal matters. With $515 million dedicated to transportation, I think its going to be hard for even the northern representatives and senators to argue with what is proposed for the coast, says Rep. Gordon Dove, a Houma Republican. Of the $515 million set aside for roads and bridges, roughly $249 million will be distributed to all of Louisianas 64 parishes, based on objective criteria determined by the Department of Transportation and Development. Sen. Reggie Dupre, a Bourg Democrat who serves as Doves counterpart in the Upper Chamber, predicts that the objective criteria will likely favor northern parishes as a way to balance the pork.