- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 29, 2003

DENVER (AP) Governments nationwide are scrambling to reorganize state agencies to boost preparedness against terrorism, but with budget crises taking hold and federal assistance stalled in Congress, reform efforts have added up to a financial nightmare.
State homeland security offices have been popping up since the September 11 attacks, and all states now have some sort of security and preparedness effort. But funding remains hard to come by.
Colorado has a homeland security office but no state funding, and its handful of full-time employees are borrowed from other state agencies. That includes director Sue Mencer, who also heads the Department of Public Safety.
"We have limited resources to accomplish the task that we have to," said Allen Turner, a manager of the office.
After the attacks, all states were required to have a single point of contact for the national Office of Homeland Security. They also have been promised a share of about $3.5 billion in federal funds designated by President Bush for planning and security efforts.
But the federal assistance has yet to materialize, held back by budget battles in Congress.
In Virginia, the office of the director of commonwealth preparedness operates on federal grants, director John Hager said.
"Too many people sit around and wail about not having any money where they ought to sit down and get things done," he said. "We've been supported in many instances with federal money, and [various state] agencies one way or another are able to expand their ability or capability to carry this out."
"There's a lot of stretching going on," he said.
Missouri's Office of Homeland Security has received about $500,000 in state funding to create a plan to protect critical infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, communications systems and banking.
"We, like everybody else, are held hostage to our fiscal crisis and to the decisions of Congress," said Tim Daniel, state homeland security director.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, criticized the Bush administration for failing to help states, saying Friday that a survey of 40 New York counties and municipalities found that 70 percent had received no federal funding for homeland security. She said these governments had spent $2.6 billion on anti-terrorism measures.
Commissioners from cash-strapped counties criticized Congress last week for delays in approving the $3.5 billion in federal assistance.
Ken Mayfield, a commissioner in Dallas County, Texas, and president of the National Association of Counties, called the lack of funding a "travesty."
"It's like sending soldiers into battle without weapons or training," he said.
Amy Call, spokeswoman for the White House Office of Management and Budget, said last week that the administration continues to support the $3.5 billion figure.
"The president felt strongly that the first responders were a key part of the homeland security strategy and we will continue to fight for the president's priorities in the appropriations bills, but in the end Congress does have discretion," she said.

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