A list of roads in Louisiana scheduled to be upgraded through state borrowing still is incomplete.
However, state officials agreed Thursday to move forward with hiring the legal experts and underwriters needed to issue the bonds for $325 million in improvements.
Members of the State Bond Commission urged the Jindal administration to quickly finish the project list, especially with the cost of borrowing money expected to increase this winter.
“The biggest thing we’re lacking is a listing,” said state Rep. Jim Fannin. “The sooner the better.”
The bond plan stems from House Bill 783, which Fannin sponsored this past legislative session.
Half of the $50 million a year generated from commercial vehicle registration and license fees would be used to issue bonds. The borrowing would be repaid over 20 years.
The schedule calls for $100 million to be issued the first year, $100 million the second year and $125 million in the third year.
Every parish, except Orleans, would see road improvements.
The plan was part of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s legislative package. The governor will determine which roads receive funding.
Whit Kling, director of the State Bond Commission, said Thursday that he needs a list of projects and an idea of when they will need to draw funds before he can go to the bond market.
“We do not have a project listing. We don’t have draws. But the intent is simply to have the professionals in place,” he said.
Kling said he would like to see the state go to the bond market before the end of 2012 .
Fannin, D-Jonesboro, asked him to explain the urgency.
Cautioning that he does not own a crystal ball, Kling said his personal opinion is that interest rates will increase after November.
“The market is extremely volatile,” he said.
State Treasurer John Kennedy said it is difficult to do a bond sale in the summer.
“I want to get in sooner than September, if I can, but all the rich folks in New York go on vacation in August so you can’t sell any bonds,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said he still would like to get to the market by September.
“If I get the project listing and everything really quick, possibly,” Kling said.
Michael Bridges, undersecretary for the state Department of Transportation and Development, said the list will be completed soon.
The question, Bridges said, is whether the state should sell all of the bonds at once or take the risk that interest rates will stay consistent and stick to the three-year plan.
“We need the list,” Kennedy told him.