Gov. Edwards announces spending proposals for first $1.6 billion of COVID-19 relief


    CLARIFICATION: This story has been changed to reflect that the amounts listed are what the governor has proposed spending. The Legislature will decide how much is spent.

    Louisiana’s unemployment trust fund would receive $400 million and the unemployment insurance loan payment system $230 million, according to a proposal Gov. John Bel Edwards has to spend the state’s first $1.6 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act.

    During the worst of the pandemic, Louisiana’s economy was at 86 percent of its pre-pandemic level, Edwards said. On Thursday, he said the state is at 94 percent “and growing.”

    “There is no doubt that Louisiana is on the mend, but we still need some help in order to make a full recovery,” Edwards said in a written statement. “By investing these American Rescue Plan dollars wisely, we can shore up our unemployment insurance trust fund and avoid businesses paying higher taxes, continue to chip away at Louisiana’s backlog of infrastructure projects, support our tourism industry and improve our aging water infrastructure.”

    Louisiana is set to receive more than $5 billion in state and local budget aid from the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. Of the total, $3.1 billion has been earmarked for the state budget, while local governments will receive $1.9 billion in aid.

    The rest of the state’s first $1.6 billion relief money will go to:

    • Infrastructure – $400 million
    • Water and Sewer Systems – $300 million
    • Tourism and Convention and Visitors Bureaus – $125 million
    • Department of Culture Recreation and Tourism – $20 million
    • Louisiana Ports – $50 million

    “I am deeply grateful to President Biden for his commitment to helping Louisiana kickstart its economy again after the crushing blow dealt to our country by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Edwards said.