BATON ROUGE -- Gov. Bobby Jindal said Tuesday he is recommending that legislators approve almost $246 million of last year's state surplus for highway and bridge construction and repairs when the lawmaking session opens April 27.
Jindal said the $245.85 million of the surplus can leverage another $252 million in federal money that can be used on big-ticket items such as construction of segments of Interstate 49 in north and south Louisiana, and local roads in rural and urban areas.
"In effect, this announcement represents a commitment of nearly a half-billion dollars for highways and bridges in Louisiana, " he said.
The state ended the 2007-08 fiscal year with a surplus of $865.68 million. The $246 million Jindal wants to spend on infrastructure is the second-largest chunk of that total.
Jindal has already proposed spending $300 million to match federal money for coastal protection. Another $98.4 million has been set aide to chip away at a backlog of capital construction projects at the state's colleges and universities.
Another $67.38 million has been earmarked for deposit in a "rainy day" fund, leaving a little more than $154 million left for Jindal and lawmakers to allocate. The governor said he has not yet decided how the balance of the surplus will be spent.
Lawmakers must now approve the use of the surplus money or dicker with the governor over other ways to spend it.