That's BILLION with a "B"!
La. senators propose $250 billion reconstruction package
By DAVID PACE
Associated Press Writer
September 22, 2005
Louisiana's senators upped the ante on Hurricane Katrina's reconstruction costs Thursday, introducing legislation that would provide an estimated $250 billion in federal money to rebuild flood-ravaged New Orleans and repair hurricane damage elsewhere across the state.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said the comprehensive package of direct spending and tax incentives was intended as a roadmap for Senate and House committees as they develop reconstruction legislation for the hurricane-devastated Gulf Coast.
"It's all vital," said Landrieu. "There's not anything in here that we would consider a wish list or pie in the sky. This is what we really believe is essential."
Congress already has provided $62 billion for recovery of the Gulf Coast from the hurricane and previous estimates have suggested the final total could top $200 billion. But the Landrieu-Vitter proposal, backed by the state's entire House delegation as well, would cost $250 billion on top of the $62 billion already appropriated. And it doesn't include reconstruction funding for Mississippi or Alabama, which also were hit hard by the storm.
"We recognize that it's a very high number," Landrieu said. "But I guess part of introducing this package, and doing it unified in our delegation, is to say this is an unprecedented natural disaster and national tragedy and it's going to take an unprecedented response."
Vitter said the proposal calls for the appointment of a strong federal manager to oversee and expedite the reconstruction effort in Louisiana. He said the manager would have no authority the federal government doesn't already have but would be able to work directly with state and local officials to cut through red tape and speed up the rebuilding.
After the torpid initial response to Katrina by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Vitter said he doesn't "feel comfortable even today that 98 percent of the federal money is still going through FEMA."
The package calls for the creation of an independent commission, armed with $40 billion, to develop and oversee needed hurricane protection, flood control and coastal restoration projects in the state that would carried out by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Much of that hurricane protection and coastal restoration work would be paid for with royalties and revenues from offshore oil and gas drilling. The legislation would provide coastal states for the first time with 50 percent of such revenues - $3 billion to $4 billion annually for Louisiana. That's the same percentage state now get of government revenue generated by onshore oil and gas drilling.
The legislation provides a host of direct and indirect incentives designed to encourage the return of New Orleans residents and businesses forced out by the flooding. School systems, for example, would get $750 million in incentive funds to enable them to retain qualified teachers, homeowners would get $5 billion in mortgage relief while they repair or rebuild, and small businesses would get a $1,000 tax credit for each employee returning to work in the disaster areas.
The package would provide $50 billion in community development block grants to promote long-term recovery in hard-hit communities, $30 billion in tax exempt bond financing authority for rebuilding in the disaster areas, $150 million for an emergency loan fund for small businesses, and tax incentives to businesses that hire Katrina victims and that invest in property, plant and equipment in disaster areas.
It also would allocate $1 billion to address public health problems created by Katrina, including $800 million to rebuild the state's health care infrastructure. And it would extend Medicaid coverage to all hurricane victims at or below the federal poverty level.
To rebuild the state's transportation systems, the legislation would provide $13 billion to the state Department of Transportation and Development, $1 billion to the Port of New Orleans, and nearly $300 million to replace revenue losses the storm caused at the New Orleans Airport, the Regional Transit Authority and the Public Belt Railroad.
Just to put this in perspective...the gross domestic product of Sweden is about $250 Billion.
These people are nuts if they think the citizens of this country are going to support dumping 10% of the national budget into providing money to politicians who have proven themselves corrupt and dishonest.
I'm math challenged, so somebody correct me if I am wrong. But if there are a million people affected by this hurricane, wouldn't it be like writing them all a check for $250,000?
And Landrau is such a humanitarian, there isn't a nickel in her bill to help the people of MS or AL. Plus, she did it on the eve of when Hurricane Rita is supposed ot hit. This is so detestable it is laughable.