- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 2, 2005

ASSOCIATED PRESS

New York has yet to spend $125 million for workers injured in the attacks of September 11, 2001, and their aftermath. Tired of waiting, the federal government wants the money back.

New York lawmakers are trying to hold on to the funds ahead of a House committee meeting next week to consider reclaiming the money, as the Bush administration has proposed for the budget year that begins Oct. 1.

Twenty-one lawmakers from the state, including Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles E. Schumer, want the White House to redirect the money toward health programs for ground zero workers affected with long-term lung problems that might not appear for years.

The administration has resisted.

The federal government agreed to give more than $20 billion to help New York recover from the attacks. The money included $175 million for the state’s workers’ compensation program. But as the claims were processed, the bulk of the money was not spent.

A report last year by the Government Accountability Office found that New York spent $44 million to pay out money quickly through other state agencies.

An additional $4.4 million was used to upgrade the compensation board’s computer system to prepare for future disasters.

That left about $125 million because the board has not paid out huge sums for claims related to September 11. In the case of $25 million set aside for rescue workers who came to New York from out of town, the board had paid $456,000 by mid-2004.

Scott Milburn, spokesman for the White House Office of Management and Budget, said New York has used $49 million of the $175 million, spending $6 million in the last budget year.

“The needs were not as large as initially feared,” Mr. Milburn said.

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