Natchitoches residents discuss infrastructure and credit unions with legislators in DC

Rick and Mary Ann with Senator John Kennedy

Parish President Rick Nowlin and Mary Ann Nowlin, Cenla Regional Vice President for La Capitol Federal Credit Union, traveled to Washington, D.C. on Sept. 11-12. They met with Senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, and Congressmen Mike Johnson, Ralph Abraham and Garrett Graves.  One of the primary issues they discussed was the promotion of federal assistance to parishes and counties nationwide for the improvement of local roads as part of the national transportation infrastructure program proposed by President Donald Trump.  Previous federal programs have directed the funds to the state departments of transportation and the funds are used on state highways. Rick stressed the need to allocate funds for local roads and direct them to the local governments.

All of these legislators expressed interest in Rick’s proposal and agreed to see what could be done to accommodate the local government entities.  Of course, any local entity seeking assistance would have to contribute 20 percent of the project costs, just the same as state transportation departments must do.   If a parish asks for federal help, it will have to provide the 20 percent match.  For Natchitoches Parish, it would mean the citizens would have to agree to increase their dedicated road taxes in an amount sufficient to generate the matching funds.  The Natchitoches Parish government doesn’t have the funds to meet the match with present tax revenues.

“I think the Parish should pursue any program that will provide the Parish with $4 for every $1 the Parish contributes,” said Rick. “For example, the sales tax initiative rejected by Parish voters in 2016 would have generated about $3.5 million per year for road improvements. Had it passed and if the proposed federal funds were available, the federal contribution would be $14 million in one year alone.  So, instead of having $3.5 million to spend on roads, we would have a total of $17.5 million!”

Rick said he will continue to communicate with representatives in Washington, D.C. and push for the inclusion of this plan in the legislation.

Mary Ann represented LaCapitol Federal Credit Union at the annual NAFCU conference in D.C.  She spoke to the senators and congressmen about the important role credit unions play in the nation and, in particular, in Louisiana.  Many people don’t realize that nearly 1.4 million people in Louisiana are members of credit unions.  Credit unions serve many people who cannot be served by other financial institutions due to their particular circumstances.

Mary Ann works closely with local community banks to meet the needs of citizens.  She stressed the importance of support for revisions to the Consumer Finance Protection Board that would relieve credit unions and other small financial institutions from over burdensome regulations.  The regulation of credit unions increased dramatically following the 2008 financial collapse, even though they had little, if anything, to do with the problem.  In fact, credit unions across American did a lot to pull the country out of the situation.

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