Amendment asks voters to consider fund that doesn't exist

An amendment on next month's ballot asks voters to consider allowing the state treasurer to invest public money in a fund that doesn't currently exist.

In Lakeview, you don't have to go far before hitting a street riddled with potholes. New Orleans resident Lee Ambrose says, "We take a ride and man, I'm gonna tear up my front end, you know,? So it's really bad, the streets are really bad."

Ambrose and many others wish the City of New Orleans had more money to invest on street repairs. Turns out, that may soon happen, thanks to amendment four on the Nov. 4 ballot.

UNO political scientist Ed Chervenak, Ph.D., explains, "Amendment four would allow the state treasurer to invest public funds in the Louisiana Transportation Infrastructure Bank."

Local governments could borrow money from the bank to pay for road projects and slowly pay back the loans over time. It would allow the governments to use their general fund dollars for other things, like fire and police protection. But the problem is, the infrastructure bank doesn't exist.

"It's kind of putting the cart before the horse," Chervenak said.

During the last session, the Louisiana Legislature considered a proposal to create the bank. The idea didn't pass, but one piece of the package that deals with giving Treasurer John Kennedy the power to invest the funds did. Chervenak explains, "I guess their thinking is if they get this, it'll put pressure on the Legislature to create this infrastructure bank."

Chervenak admits it's a confusing item on the ballot, and one that voters seem split on.

New Orleans resident Harold Engle says he'd vote in favor the amendment, explaining, "I think a loan would be fine, because that means we have to pay it back, and we need to allocate those funds to something I want."

Voter Marlene Lambert contends, "I want to see something there. You want me to vote for something that isn't there? No, I wouldn't do that."

Chervenak thinks the amendment may be difficult to pass, and if it doesn't, it's a proposal that's likely to resurface in the future.

We checked with the City of New Orleans to see if the administration would be interested in borrowing some money to repair roads, but we weren't granted an interview.

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