1. #1
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    Default 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.

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    "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."

    What is even more laughable is your need only to point a finger at Landrau. In case you missed it; this was supported by both Senators, Landrau a Democrat and Vitter a Republican, along with the entire Louisiana members of the House. Just guessing, since I don't feel like looking it up, but I am betting there are a couple of Republican members of the House from Louisiana also.

    Partisan hacks, gotta love em.
    Last edited by RE33; 09-24-2005 at 06:50 PM.

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    I can only shake my head at this news. What are the residents of Florida thinking as all of this goes on?

    It also seemed to read that we will be giving up 3-4 billion in federal tax revenue from now on due to the redistribution of the oil revenue

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    Default Florida

    I think Florida is rebuilding, while others debate??

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    Has Florida (or any other state for that matter) ever amassed that kind of aid post hurricane? If so, how many incidents did it take before they reached that level?

    Wasn't there an issue between Louisiana and the feds several years ago about the off shore revenues? It seems like there was something about this in a Federal Court ruling a few years back.
    Last edited by Steamer; 09-24-2005 at 06:06 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RE33
    "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."

    What is even more laughable is your need only to point a finger at Landrau. In case you missed it; this was supported by both Senators, Landrau a Democrat and Vitter a Republican, along with the entire Louisiana members of the House. Just guessing, since I don't feel like looking it up, but I am betting there are a couple of Republican members of the House from Louisiana also.

    Partisan hacks, gotta love em.
    Oh, it isn't laughable at all. As far as I could see, Landrau was the only legislator doing whatever she could to get her face in front of the cameras. She was also the only politician who embarassed your state and herself by threatening violence to the President (Yes, she did. She is now trying to rewrite history by saying she didn't) and she is the only legislator out of that group who is proud to be part of an old-style political machine.

    I didn't miss it. And I am proud to be a conservative, but do not insult me by calling me a "partisan hack". A "partisan hack" is someone who gets a job they are not qualified for due to political connections. That is not me.

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    I also caught a press conference yesterday with I believe the Governor (Blanco, maybe?) and she was just as bad. She was asking for another BILLION dollars to hire 400 Family Service /counselors/workers to basically tell people what agencies would provide what services (to best meet their needs). In my neck of the woods, thats the Department of Social Services.

    One of the news media guys apparently had the same problem with that I did...and said "Governor, can you clarify, is that Billion with a B or Million with a M?"

    She said BILLION, again. Then proceeded to ATTEMPT to defend her over-inflated budget, which sounded ridiculous to me. Apparently those 400 people just point the families in the "right direction" so they know which agency can best serve them. So all those people aren't confused about the overlapping services of Red Cross, FEMA, private donations, etc.

    I can understand needing some information out there for people. But a BILLION DOLLARS?! I can understand the frustration of phone lines ringing busy and all that...but c'mon, a BILLION DOLLARS...for 400 people's jobs? That's alot of administrative cost built in somewhere.

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    And of course, this will be done without raising our taxes?
    It's very simple to me.
    The Gulf States should be eligible for whatever low interest loans and grants have been afforded to other states hit by natural disaster. There should not be a bailout or blank check written.
    And there had better be close scrutiny of the process.
    We are supporting/supplementing entirely too many people who are foolishly building in forests that are loaded with fuel(in the Hayman fire in Colorado, $38 million was spent to protect roughly 130 homes) or in flood plains that have a history of flooding.
    Maybe if they were REQUIRED to carry insurance, if the insurance company will even insure it, then fine. But if they don't have insurance, then I'd say they are on their own.
    And don't throw the poor or indigent flag up. There are also certain risks with living under a bridge or in a box.
    Around here, we create our opportunities. We don't stand in line with our hand out.
    I am very much in favor of helping out the under-privileged.
    But I'll be damned if I'll willingly pay for their cable/dish, cigarettes, alcohol, cellphone, car stereos, spinners, logo wear or an upgrade to first class when I don't even go first class. Cut out the excess and buy the necessities; that's what I can agree to.
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    Despite having a single Dem Senator, let's not forget two things. The super majority (5 of 7) of the House delegation from LA is GOP. And LA was a red state that went to Bush in the last election.

    So please Norm, spare us the DEM bashing. The Repubs are there with their hands out just the same.
    Last edited by scfire86; 09-25-2005 at 03:05 PM.
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    Cool help yourself

    Seems to me that we should use the old methods of the depression era. Everyone who lived there gets paid by the feds and state to rebuild and then move in. Put the people to work instead of contracting the mess to someone else. If you can't do physical labour then we will find some job you can do that is producitve. I believe we had the CCC back in the days of the depression. Why pay people to sit on their as**s.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lvwrench
    Seems to me that we should use the old methods of the depression era. Everyone who lived there gets paid by the feds and state to rebuild and then move in. Put the people to work instead of contracting the mess to someone else. If you can't do physical labour then we will find some job you can do that is producitve. I believe we had the CCC back in the days of the depression. Why pay people to sit on their as**s.
    A great idea!
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    While I agree that $250B may be a bit much, why are you against helping our own people, when we have spent nearly $200B rebuilding a country that we destroyed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Parafire2
    While I agree that $250B may be a bit much, why are you against helping our own people, when we have spent nearly $200B rebuilding a country that we destroyed.
    Because he hates people. What else could it be?
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    Bond Commission approves $45 million for construction work

    Associated Press
    BATON ROUGE As Louisiana officials plead for federal hurricane relief aid, a state money panel agreed Thursday to spend nearly $45 million on construction projects ranging from health labs and water wells to a sports complex and livestock facilities.

    A group of state senators not on the panel said the spending would damage Louisiana's attempts to secure federal cash for recovery efforts and would give the appearance that the state was focusing on nonemergency items while talking about employee layoffs and devastating health and education cuts.

    "What you do in the next few minutes is going to reverberate throughout this country as to what Louisiana's priorities are," state Sen. Jay Dardenne, R-Baton Rouge, told the Bond Commission, a panel made of Gov. Kathleen Blanco's representatives, many of her legislative allies and others.

    The state's tax base is decimated, Blanco has ordered a spending and hiring freeze on many parts of the budget, and officials are grappling with a deficit expected to reach $1.5 billion in tax income alone.

    Despite the concerns, the Bond Commission shuffled state construction spending, taking money from items that wouldn't be able to start on time and rather than holding the cash unanimously agreed to move it to new projects. Blanco's office chooses which items in the state construction budget get funded, and the list of projects was drawn up by her staff.

    Commissioner of Administration Jerry Luke LeBlanc, the governor's chief budget analyst and a member of the bond panel, said construction in other parts of the state can't grind to a halt because southern Louisiana was devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

    Sen. Charles "C.D." Jones, D-Monroe, said many projects are vital needs in parishes that have been flooded with evacuees and have facilities stretched beyond capacity. He said starting new projects would send a signal to the country that Louisiana hasn't shut down.

    "You know there are some boondoggles in here that shouldn't even be considered in the face of the massive budget problems we have," said Sen. Robert Barham, R-Oak Ridge, pointing to a horse arena in Morehouse Parish, part of his district. "Don't think they're not going to see you in Washington, D.C."

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