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Can You Spare a Billion? 

  It has been nearly five years since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita changed Louisiana's political and geographic landscapes and uprooted hundreds of thousands of citizens. While the federal response was widely panned, the state has thus far budgeted $13.4 billion in federal cash to address the damage left in the storms' wakes. Recently, however, members of the Louisiana House Municipal and Parochial Affairs Committee were more interested in how much money has not yet been spent. Robin Keegan, executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA), told the committee unspent funds currently stand at $3.2 billion, which is $300,000 less than the figure the LRA presented in December. While the leftover cash is enough, hypothetically, to cover the state's two-year budget shortfall — and then some — Keegan warned lawmakers that the money isn't up for grabs. "Today, again, all of these monies have been committed to specific programs, but they've also been committed to specific entities," she says.

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