News > Speeches
Jan 24, 2007
NEW ORLEANS - Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco delivered the following remarks outlining disproportionate federal funding for communities recovering from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and in response to the President's failure to include Louisiana's unprecedented recovery as a national priority during his State of the Union address:
Did you see the State of the Union last night? I did, and was surprised and disappointed that the President had nothing to say about the Gulf Coast. He had nothing to say about Louisiana. And he had nothing to say about the massive recovery that still lies before us. Our recovery may be yesterday's news in Washington, but it's very real here at home.
Over the past two days I've called attention to Michael Brown and the broken code of silence regarding partisan politics. When our people's lives were in danger, political operatives in the White House were playing politics.
He said, "Unbeknownst to me, certain people in the White House were thinking, we had to federalize Louisiana because she's a white, female Democratic Governor and we have a chance to rub her nose in it."
"We can't do it to Haley because Haley's a white male Republican governor. And we can't do a thing to him. So we're just going to federalize Louisiana."
To the citizens out there watching these news reports, let me tell you how this dirty politics affects your lives.
It has delayed our recovery by over six months; and
It has shortchanged the federal dollars available to help us recover.
Too many of our people are still hurting. Every day that you are not able to come home, and every day that you have to dig deeper into your pockets to cover the costs of repairs is a day that could have been prevented.
I'm calling on the new Congress to work with us to guarantee that Louisiana receives its rightful share of the total recovery funding, on a proportional basis.
We have never asked for a penny more than we deserve, but we will continue to insist on receiving every justifiable cent.
We have faced month after month of the aftermath of what Michael Brown has finally identified as the rawest kind of politics.
Today I want to carefully outline the inequities and unfairness Louisianans have received at the hands of opportunistic politicians.
Louisiana had nearly 80% of the storm damage from two hurricanes received only 55% of federal relief funds. Mississippi, with 23% of the damage, received 45% of the relief funds.
This is far more money proportionately, and they received it a full six months ahead of us. Our Road Home progress was delayed six months due to this disparity.
Earlier this month, FEMA announced the Katrina Cottage housing program. Mississippi has 31,000 families living in trailers, and received $280 million in funding for Katrina Cottages. Louisiana has 64,000 families living in trailers, but FEMA gave us only $74 million.
A few days ago, Secretary Leavitt called to tell me that Louisiana would only receive 45% of the funding for hospitals.
This is unbelievable, considering Louisiana lost 97% of our hospital beds along the Gulf Coast. Mississippi got 38% of the funding, even though they only lost 3% of the Gulf Coast hospital beds. They lost only 79 beds to our more than 2600 beds.
Louisiana and Mississippi both received $95 million for higher education. This is outrageous, considering Louisiana had 76%, or 84,000, of the displaced students, and three times as many universities as Mississippi.
Both Louisiana and Mississippi received $100 million for displaced K-12 students, in spite of the fact that Louisiana had 69%, or 176,000 of the displaced student. This is compared to Mississippi's 31%.
We must not stand for this second class citizenship any longer. The patterns are clear, and they continue into this month with the recent announcements about health care and the Katrina Cottages.
I'm asking Congress to investigate this outrageous partisan treatment of our State. We must put an end to it.
And I'm going to ask Congress to put an end once and for all to the great disparities in funding. It's unfair, inequitable and unacceptable.
Governor calls for Congressional action, responds to comments by former FEMA director Michael Brown >>
Governor Blanco addresses White House criticism and further discusses Michael Brown's revelation >>
Louisiana's Fair Share of Recovery Dollars >>