Jindal outlines goals to congressional delegation

PoliticsMeteorological DisastersHeads of StateGovernmentRegional Authority

Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Louisiana

congressional delegation's list of priorities for the new White

House administration and new Congress centers on hurricane

recovery, health care and energy issues.

They include aid for farmers whose crops were devastated by

hurricanes Gustav and Ike, the removal of red tape for local

governments negotiating with the Federal Emergency Management

Agency about aid from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and changes to

the Medicaid financing formula for states affected by disasters.

Jindal outlined the priorities Saturday at the Governor's

Mansion after a meeting with several members of the congressional

delegation, one of a regular series of quarterly meetings between

the governor and Louisiana's members of Congress.

The Republican governor talked of coastal restoration and flood

protection needs and opportunities for Louisiana to play a role in

developing nuclear power and alternative energy projects. Also on

the list is a request for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to use

dredging material to help Louisiana rebuild its wetlands, rather

than dumping it into the Gulf of Mexico.

He said the state also hopes President-elect Barack Obama's

administration and the 111th Congress would be more sympathetic on

federal rebuilding dollars for the New Orleans charity hospital

that was flooded by Hurricane Katrina. FEMA has offered $150

million for the damage, but Jindal said the state is owed more than

$491 million.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-New Orleans, called the list "a

thoughtful and strategic game plan for this team. It is certainly

doable with hard work."

The issues aren't new. Many remain unresolved after continuing

negotiations with the Bush administration and the last Congress.

What is new is a plan by the Obama administration to craft a

sweeping economic stimulus package for states, that the White House

hopes could gain congressional approval in February.

Jindal said the Obama administration asked states to provide

lists of transportation and infrastructure projects that were

"shovel ready" and could begin within 90 to 180 days, projects

that could create jobs and stimulate state economies.

Among the projects Jindal said Louisiana could begin quickly if

provided federal aid were continued expansions of Interstates 10

and 12 in the Baton Rouge area, I-49 north from Shreveport to

Arkansas and road paving projects around the state.

The governor and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie, said they

have asked the Obama administration to include dollars for coastal

restoration and flood protection projects in the stimulus proposal.

Jindal said the stimulus bill likely won't include money tied to

specific projects, but rather distributed through a funding formula

that would allocate dollar amounts to states.

Though Vitter said he would work to get Louisiana priorities

included in the stimulus plans, he added, "I don't know how I'll

vote on that final bill."

In attendance besides Landrieu and Vitter were Republican U.S.

Reps. Rodney Alexander, Charles Boustany and Steve Scalise.

Representatives for Democratic U.S. Rep. Charles Melancon and

Republican U.S. Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao also participated in the

meeting.

The group pledged to work in a bipartisan effort with Democratic

leaders in Washington on their priorities.

Jindal, a former member of Congress, and the state's Republican

congressmen said they didn't believe having a majority Republican

delegation would harm the state's efforts to work with the

Democratic White House and the Democratic-controlled Congress.

"The new administration in D.C. has indicated they want to work

in a bipartisan way ... We're going to take them at their word.

We're going to work with them," Jindal said.

Newly elected Congressmen Bill Cassidy and John Fleming didn't

attend Saturday's meeting.

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