Louisiana seeking ways to lessen $3B flood-protection debt

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana welcomed federal flood-protection money in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in a deal with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that didn’t require the state to begin repaying its share for a decade.

But now that bill is coming due, and it has ballooned to a dismaying $3 billion because of accumulated interest.

The looming payments have Louisiana officials worried the debt will steer money away from other risk-reduction projects in a vulnerable state worried about the next killer storm.

And the debt threatens to create new budget woes in a state where the governor and lawmakers reached a hard-fought tax deal that just returned Louisiana to budget stability.

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