Small States Get Bigger Share of Homeland Security Funds

WASHINGTON (AP) -- New York and California received the biggest shares of the first $3 billion in federal funding for homeland security, but the government's distribution formulas also made winners of Wyoming, Alaska and Vermont, an Associated Press analysis shows.

Big states mentioned as possible terrorist targets are leading the money chase. New York has received the most, about $321 million. California ranks second with $304 million, followed by Texas at $183 million.

But 12 states bested New York on a per capita basis, the AP tally showed. The $17.7 million sent to Wyoming worked out to nearly $36 per person, the most of any state. New York, by comparison, got nearly $17 per person, California $9.

Less populated states have done well, per capita, because the federal government has divided significant portions of the money into equal pieces for distribution to all states.

The per-capita rankings rankle lawmakers from urban areas, who say the government should be less interested in keeping all states happy and more focused on targeting money to cities and states most at risk of terror attack.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said this week that 70 percent of homeland security grants have been distributed ``under a formula that is entirely unrelated to where the terror threat is.'' She said the number could rise to 83 percent next year under legislation being considered in Congress.

``Our effort to protect the most likely targets of terrorism is moving backward,'' she said.

The AP created a state-by-state breakdown of $3,047,296,892 released as of June 24 by the Department of Homeland Security through its Office of Domestic Preparedness, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Transportation Security Administration. The department had announced an additional $1 billion in homeland security funding but had not yet divided it among the states.

In some cases, homeland security grants have gone to groups of states or to a multistate agency such as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The AP divided those funds equally among state recipients. More than $60 million distributed so far to the National Capital Region was divided equally among Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

The AP analysis showed that small states lead the pack on a per capita basis. After Wyoming came Alaska ($35.66 per person, based on the 2000 Census) and Vermont ($29.77 per person).

Washington, D.C., has received $73.10 per person, more than any state. But even the nation's capital is not the per capita champion. American Samoa, a U.S. territory 2,300 miles south of Hawaii, got $5.4 million in homeland security funds, or $94.40 for each of its 57,291 residents.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said this week that he, too, believes New York City and other high-risk cities should receive a bigger slice of federal anti-terrorism funds.

Ridge has told lawmakers the Bush administration is working on an updated formula ``that better takes into account threats, population density and the presence of critical infrastructure.''

Since the Department of Homeland Security opened March 1, it has used several different methods and formulas to distribute money to states, cities, ports, maritime businesses, fire departments and other local public safety offices.

Much of the initial money to states _ including the department's inaugural distribution of $566 million in early March _ was divided without any subjective analysis of likely terrorist threat. Forty percent of that money was distributed equally among the 50 states. The other 60 percent was divided among states by their respective populations.

That system angered some lawmakers, who said it would give less money per capita to the places that most need it. An additional $1.5 billion was subsequently distributed according to the 40/60 formula.

Later grants have gone specifically to areas deemed more vulnerable to terrorist attack. The department has sent $800 million to densely populated urban areas with ports, mass transit and other critical transportation, communication and commercial installations.

And some other funds are being distributed by competitive application, including $750 million to help fire departments pay for training and fitness programs, purchase vehicles and equipment and create fire prevention programs.

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