Welfare a model for homeland?

Could federal funding for antiterrorism efforts be modeled after welfare reform, with states given flexibility over how to use funds for homeland security?

South Dakota Gov. Bill Janklow floated that suggestion during the National Governors Association (www.nga.org) winter meeting Feb. 26 in Washington, D.C., and it intrigued several visiting Capitol Hill lawmakers.

Janklow said South Dakota is different from Bronx, N.Y., and Tallahassee, Fla., in terms of geography and population. He said there's "no way realistically" the state's communities can apply for homeland security funding because they don't have the resources or expertise that larger municipalities have.

Under welfare reform, the federal government provided block grants to the states, which took different approaches to offering benefits. Janklow said that by applying the welfare reform model to homeland security, states become "laboratories" to improve the first line of defense.

President Bush has proposed $3.5 billion to help the nation's first responders — police, firefighters and emergency ambulance personnel — to develop plans, help train, buy equipment, and conduct regular exercises. Under the plan, 75 percent of the funds will go directly to local governments, while 25 percent will be given to the states for their use.

Overall, Bush has proposed $38 billion for homeland security initiatives. Additionally, the federal government has made $1.1 billion available to states to help them plan against bioterrorism.

U.S. Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who spoke to the governors varied issues, said they'd support the flexibility of homeland defense funds. Portman said funds should be aimed at regional solutions as well. Another invited speaker, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), said states ought to be free to "implement laboratory creative responses. To not do that would be absurd."

But he said that there must be national guidelines established for certain issues, such as communication and information sharing, for states to work within.

Featured

  • Defense
    Ryan D. McCarthy being sworn in as Army Secretary Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo credit: Sgt. Dana Clarke/U.S. Army)

    Army wants to spend nearly $1B on cloud, data by 2025

    Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said lack of funding or a potential delay in the JEDI cloud bid "strikes to the heart of our concern."

  • Congress
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    Jim Langevin's view from the Hill

    As chairman of of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committe and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin is one of the most influential voices on cybersecurity in Congress.

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.