- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 5, 2002

President Bush's proposed $2.13 trillion fiscal year 2003 budget includes $15 million to help the District with its public-safety costs.
The money, which covers "emergency planning and security costs related to the presence of the federal government in the District of Columbia," will be used to provide public-safety coverage at national demonstrations.
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C. Democrat, said the funding represents a break for D.C. taxpayers, who are forced to pick up the costs of police, fire and emergency medical services at protest marches and demonstrations.
"The public-safety federal payment is something new," Mrs. Norton said yesterday. "They recognize that D.C. protection for these protests is a challenge the Homeland Security Office has to meet."
Since September 11, Congress has provided $200 million to the D.C. government to cover security costs in the wake of the terrorist attacks and the subsequent anthrax threat.
Tony Bullock, spokesman for D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, said while city officials continue to analyze the budget, it appears the overall funding level is down from last year.
He said the budget contained a "fair amount" of new spending for the District, but the bulk of it was related to security.
President Bush also requested $1 million for the D.C. Division of Transportation to move ahead with recommendations from the National Capital Planning Commission to develop an urban-design plan for Pennsylvania Avenue in the area immediately around the White House security zone.
The money is in addition to $758,000 included in the homeland-security bill passed in December.
Mr. Bullock said the funds, which are being used to make barriers and security equipment appear less threatening, are "not really going to make a significant change, but [its] a start."
He said the mayor was pleased there was no change in funding levels for the D.C. Tuition Assistance Program, for which $17 million was earmarked for the third year in a row.
The D.C. court system, which is adding a new family-court system, is scheduled to receive $191 million, including $32 million for facilities.
The budget request also includes $528 million for the Smithsonian Institution, up by $9 million, or 1.8 percent, from the $519 million requested last year. The request includes $454.3 for salaries and expenses and $81.3 million for repairs and restoration of buildings. That is up from last year's $68 million for renovations. Buildings deemed most in need of renovation include the Patent Office Building and the National Museum of Natural History.
The budget gives $12 million to new construction, of which $10 million will be dedicated to the National Museum of the American Indian, which is under construction on the Mall and scheduled to open in 2004.
The remaining $2 million for construction will be devoted to the design of an extension to the Museum Support Center in Suitland. Federal employee-retirement costs take $19.7 million of the proposed budget.
"We look forward to working with Congress on our appropriation, and appreciate the support of the administration for our scientific research and renovation of the Patent Office Building," Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence Small said in a prepared statement.
Officials in Maryland and Virginia said it was too soon to determine how the federal budget will affect their states, but a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation said it was unlikely the budget would have any effect on funding for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project.
Brian DeBose and Gabriella Boston contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.


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