Louisiana’s share of levee construction out of a $14.8 billion federal budget is $1.8 billion. Even more stunning than the sum is the time frame: the state needs to come up with the funds within three years. State coastal tzar Garret Graves says it’s an egregious amount for Congress to demand from Louisiana. “The bottom line is there is no way possible for the state of Louisiana to come up with the amount of money that Washington is asking of us” Graves told the Times Picayune.
Last week, a Senate plan that would have allowed Louisiana to pay its share of the levee costs over 30 years was stripped out of an Iraq war supplemental finance bill by the House and replaced by the three year provision. President Bush signed the bill on Monday. Graves says the $1.8 billion payment would drain coastal restoration coffers , crippling dozens of wetlands projects already authorized by Congress.