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|Mayo lobbies Landrieu for stimulus money|
Following a conversation with U.S Sen. Mary Landrieu, Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo is optimistic northeast Louisiana will get its fair share of the economic stimulus package currently under consideration in Congress.
The Senate approved the $838-billion economic stimulus bill Tuesday. A conference committee comprised of members of the House and Senate began negotiations Wednesday afternoon. The committee is working to iron out the differences between the economic stimulus bill the House passed almost two weeks ago and the one the Senate passed Tuesday.
Mayo joined other Louisiana mayors late last week in a conference call with Landrieu about the stimulus bill.
"There were a number of mayors on the conference call from throughout the state," Mayo said. "North Louisiana, and specifically northeast Louisiana, was very well represented. I just want to make sure that northeast Louisiana receives its fair share of funds to be able to advance projects that we're currently working on."
Landrieu has the list of projects the city will submit to the federal government for possible funding through the stimulus package. Monroe's list includes more than two dozen projects totaling almost $60 million.
A new terminal at Monroe Regional Airport is the top priority project for the city. The $31-million project is also the most expensive one the city included in its list for the economic stimulus package.
"One of the things she expressed was there will be a determination on how the money will be distributed," Mayo said.
"It appears that most of the funding will come through the state," he said.
Mayo was referring to scenario in which the federal government would distribute stimulus funds to the state. The state would then distribute stimulus funds to local governments.
The state's mayors plan to meet during the winter conference of the Louisiana Municipal Association to go over a game plan that will better ensure their projects receive federal funding, Mayo said.
"We (mayors) would like for a large part of that funding to come directly to the cities because that's where the rubber meets the road in terms of many of the projects we're talking about," Mayo said. "The mayors feel like most of the funds should come directly to the cities. It's still unknown how all this is going to come down. We just want to position ourselves so when it does come down, we will be in a position to advance the projects we are working on."
He said the projects local governments have submitted for stimulus funding would benefit the region.
"Whatever money comes into the region is going to help everybody," Mayo explained. "The whole idea is putting people back to work.
"Monroe is going to benefit regardless where the funding goes in this region. We just want to make sure northeast Louisiana gets its fair share because typically, we have been left out.
"The most important thing is we take care of our business in making sure that however the money flows, we are on top of it. That could make the difference between whether we're funded or not. We have to stay on top of it so we can be in line, and hopefully, close to the front."
Mayo said the city is currently working on bringing in several additional businesses to Monroe. He believes the city's proposed infrastructure projects would help in those efforts.