Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Better get it while you can

The lame duck congress is poised to allocate more flood relief funding for Louisiana this week.
Louisiana is in line to get more than $1 billion in additional aid for recovery from historic flooding this year, thanks to a stop-gap spending measure awaiting approval by Congress this week.

The legislation that the flood aid is tucked into, formally known as a continuing resolution, must be approved by Friday to prevent a government shutdown. It would fund the federal government through April 28.

Specific details on the funding plan were expected to be released late Tuesday night, but U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Baton Rouge Republican who has been advocating for flood relief, said it will include some $1.2 billion in semi-flexible grant funds used to aid recovery efforts, with additional funds possible for further infrastructure efforts.

"This is an important next step and the entire delegation will continue to press for more funding to make sure that every Louisianan has what they need to get their lives back on track," Cassidy said Tuesday afternoon. "Louisiana will continue to recover and rebuild.”
A billion dollars sounds like a lot. But it's still significantly less than what is being sought... which is itself less that what is likely to be needed. 
The White House had asked Congress to sign off on a $3.15 billion disaster aid package for Louisiana and states affected by Hurricane Matthew by the end of the year.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, who has made several trips to Washington in recent weeks to lobby for flood aid, had requested nearly $4 billion in additional funding for Louisiana alone. The governor's office could not comment on the additional aid from Congress on Tuesday because the final text of the legislation had not been released.

Officials have estimated that the state suffered as much as $8.7 billion in damage from floods, and FEMA has estimated nearly 188,000 structures, mostly homes, were flooded in August alone.
Earlier this year we did some back-of-the napkin figuring and guessed that, if we're looking for a recovery package comparable to what was available per affected home after Katrina, we probably should be asking for at least $6 billion. As for the recovery plan itself, well, we had some suggestions about that too.  Let's refer back quickly to Item One on our outline.
One:  Mitch Landrieu told us the key to rebuilding New Orleans after Katrina was that we not just build everything back the way it was, but instead, build "the city we've always wanted to be."   So here is how you do that. First, look around and see if you have any land that might be made for valuable for development if you can move the poor people living there off of it.  Next, move those poor people out of the way.  Like Pres says, they're a "drag on the economy. We've talked many times about how this strategy took off in New Orleans. Make it work for you too.
Because it looks like Garret Graves is already applying this lesson. 
Graves has also questioned the need for HUD requirements that prioritize low- and moderate-income families, as well as other disadvantaged communities.

"It’s important to remember that the flood waters did not impact people along lines of race, ethnicity or socioeconomics – it inundated all its victims," he said. "We have to ensure recovery investments are made objectively, with the full scope of needs in view."
Anyway, whatever they're planning, it's best if they get as much money as they can now.  Next year they're going to dealing with a new President who has seen fit to put Ben Carson in charge of HUD which means the process could get, well, a little weird.  Also we're likely to be represented by Senator Kennedy whose campaign theme this year is a repeating mantra about "spending problems" and "too many people getting handouts."  Donald Trump will be in Baton Rouge this week stumping for Kennedy.  Maybe someone should ask him about this.

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