ANTI-TERROR-BUCKS BONANZA FOR STATEBy DAPHNE RETTER
New York Post
June 15, 2009
WASHINGTON -- New York state received nearly twice as much Homeland Security grant funding this year as it got last year, according to agency data set for release tomorrow.
Figures provided to The Post yesterday show that New York got $112.4 million -- more than any other state or territory.
Meanwhile, the amount awarded this year to New York City through a grant program that targets "high-threat, high-density" urban areas grew by only a small amount, to just over $145 million.
Rep. Peter King of Long Island hailed the numbers as a success for the city and state, and as a sign that President Obama understands the level of threats they face.
"He realizes that the money should go where it is needed the most," said King, who is the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee.
King said a large part of the state grant will also make its way to the metropolitan area.
The year's grant awards were originally recommended by the Bush administration late last year, and Obama signed off on them.
King said he was relieved to see that the city's funding "stabilized," because wild swings in funding in 2005 and 2006 made it impossible for local governments to plan ahead.
"We could always use more money, but I think it shows a pretty good transition from Bush to Obama," King said.
Grant funding has been the subject of several major legislative battles since 9/11, and New York state has had to fight to continue to receive the biggest piece of the homeland-security pie.
King said he remains opposed to statutory requirements that send grants to places with no history of terrorist threats, but the efforts to pull money away from high-threat areas like New York have largely subsided.
"In the Senate, the small states have more influence than they should, so they have been able to put in minimums for those places that don't need it. Within those foolish guidelines, though, the Homeland Security Department is making the best use of the funds it can," King said.
"I'm hoping this goes a long way toward taking homeland security out of the political debate."
Next week, the House is set to vote on the $42.6 billion Homeland Security spending bill, which would provide a 7 percent increase in funding for the department next year. The measure includes big increases for explosives-detection machines at US airports and a continued focus on policing the US-Mexico border.
It also includes several provisions related to a politically explosive fight over what to do with inmates held at the Guantanamo detention center, which Obama has vowed to close.
One of the provisions would bar detainees from coming to US soil except for trial and demand a detailed risk assessment for those moved to the US for any reason.