La. House Committee Says Businesses, Buildings Should Get $360M

April 6, 2006

A Louisiana House of Representatives budget committee agreed to a plan to spend $360 million in Louisiana’s federal hurricane recovery block grants, mainly on business loans and repairs to state buildings and local towns’ damaged infrastructure, the Associated Press reported.

That would be the first spending from an allocation of $6.2 billion available to the state in flexible block grant dollars.

Louisiana must submit its plans to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for approval before it can receive any dollars, but the Legislature must approve the plans being sent to HUD. The House Appropriations Committee approved the resolution outlining the first plans for spending, sending it to the full House for debate.

“Certainly, time is of the essence, and we’d like to move as quickly as possible,” said House Speaker Joe Salter, D-Florien, the sponsor of the resolution (House Concurrent Resolution 64) for Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s administration.

Under the plans:
-$142.5 million would help pay for repairs to state buildings.
-$95 million would pay for interest-free loans for businesses damaged by the hurricanes.
-$95 million would help local towns and parishes repair damaged sewage and water systems and other infrastructure.

Other dollars would pay for administrative costs in the block grant program.

The bulk of the remaining money in the $6.2 billion allocation is expected to be used for housing assistance programs, but the Blanco administration hasn’t submitted a resolution to the Legislature outlining the details of how those dollars would be spent.

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