Daily Breeze

May 1, 2003

California In Line For More  Homeland Security Dollars

By TOBY ECKERT
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON -- California is set to get $119.2 million from the latest round of federal aid for homeland security announced Wednesday.

The money includes $103.3 million for training and equipping emergency response workers and $15.9 million to help pay for security measures during the heightened terrorism alert level triggered by the war with Iraq.

It is part of a pool of funds totaling nearly $1.5 billion that Congress included in a wartime spending bill approved in April. California received the largest share.

Eighty percent of the money for the emergency personnel must be passed on to local governments by the state. Half of the other funding -- meant to cover the cost of protecting airports, power plants and other ""critical infrastructure'' during the monthlong ""orange'' alert -- is earmarked for localities.

""We do not underestimate the role that state and local governments play in protecting American citizens against the threat of terrorism,'' Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said in a written statement.

But officials in California and other states have complained that the federal aid is inadequate.

"These funds are a good start but are a far cry from covering the complete costs of keeping California safe,'' said Steve Maviglio a spokesman for Gov. Gray Davis.

Much of the funding announced Wednesday is being distributed under a federal formula that has been criticized by populous states. It provides a minimum amount to each state, regardless of its population or the potential threat it faces from terrorists. The rest is distributed based on population.

Ridge again called on Congress to change the formula so it takes more account of potential targets, population density and other threat measures.

""This is one of the most important things we can do in the
2004 budget,'' he told the Senate Appropriations homeland security subcommittee.

States have until May 30 to apply for the funding announced Wednesday.
In coming days, the Homeland Security Department is expected to allocate another $700 million to major urban areas that face a heightened risk of terrorism.