Friday, September 02, 2005

National Disgrace


On June 5, 2005 Deon Roberts wrote for CityBusiness about the budgetary cuts New Orleans would be facing in fiscal year 2006. And that the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would be bracing for a record $71.2 million reduction in federal funding. The largest single-year funding loss ever for the New Orleans district, according to Corps officials.

Now if that alone doesn't make you cringe, Roberts wrote what that would mean:

...major hurricane and flood protection projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now.
Congress is setting the Corps budget.

As far as bucks that went somewhere else:
The House of Representatives wanted to cut the New Orleans district budget 21 percent to $272.4 million in 2006, down from $343.5 million in 2005. The House figure was about $20 million lower than the president's suggested $290.7 million budget.

Roberts wrote:
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-New Orleans said that the Bush administration was not making Corps of Engineers funding a priority. Extremely shortsighted, Landrieu said. When the Corps of Engineers' budget is cut, Louisiana bleeds. These projects are literally life-and-death projects to the people of south Louisiana and they are (of) vital economic interest to the entire nation.

Roberts went on:
One of the hardest-hit areas of the New Orleans district's budget is the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, which was created after the May 1995 flood to improve drainage in Jefferson, Orleans and St. Tammany parishes. SELA's budget is being drained from $36.5 million awarded in 2005 to $10.4 million suggested for 2006 by the House of Representatives and the president.

Construction generally has been on the decline for several years and focus has been on other projects in the Corps.

The district had identified $35 million in projects to build and improve levees, floodwalls and pumping stations in St. Bernard, Orleans, Jefferson and St. Charles parishes. Those projects were included in a Corps line item called Lake Pontchartrain, where funding was scheduled to be cut from $5.7 million this year to $2.9 million in 2006. Enough to pay salaries but little else.

Ouch, ouch, ouch!
And who are hurting now?

Today's Seattle Times' Headline:
Stricken coast asks: Where is the help? New Orleans officials call U.S. response "A National Disgrace".
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