SEN. HEITMEIER ANNOUNCES AGGRESSIVE PLAN TO TRACK DISASTER RELIEF FUNDS REQUESTED & RECEIVED BY STATE & LOCAL GOVERNMENTAL ENTITIES
District 7 State Senator Francis Heitmeier (D-Algiers), chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget, is instituting an aggressive accountability plan to track disaster relief and recovery funds requested and received by state and local governmental entities at all levels. While the joint budget committee is responsible for approving the appropriation of all funds in the interim, the accountability plan goes beyond mere approval of budget adjustments when they are placed on the committee’s agenda.
"The committee wants to know on a weekly basis what is going on with the hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into Louisiana to assist state and local governments recover from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita," Sen. Heitmeier said. "This is not just an effort to say show me the money, but to follow the money."
Sen. Heitmeier has notified all elected officials and department heads, including the State Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness which is where a large portion of the funds headed to local governments pass through, to submit a weekly written report on any requests for funding from Congress and the subsequent denial or approval of such requests. A summary of those reports will be publicly released each week.
The joint budget committee officers, the Senate president and the House speaker have also formally requested the support of the Louisiana congressional delegation and President Bush in their efforts to help Louisiana’s recovery. They are asking for changes in the Stafford Act, which currently prevents federal aid to help replace lost state and local government income and requires states to match a portion of the federal disaster aid requested. Louisiana officials are requesting the federal government pick up 100% of the costs and replace loss government revenue for at least three years.