Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco says that many Louisiana parishes devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are “on the verge of financial collapse” and may need to lay off scores of police officers and firefighters, USA Today reports. Blanco appealed to the Bush administration and to Congress to amend a U.S. law that prohibits the use of federal money to cover basic expenses of local governments, including the payrolls of public safety and health departments.
The law allows for federal funds to pay local overtime costs in some cases. Blanco said several parishes won’t have enough to cover payrolls because storms wiped out commercial districts and neighborhoods that provided millions of dollars in property tax revenue. Much of that money helps to fund fire and police service.