Welfare a model for homeland?
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Feb 26, 2002
Could federal funding for antiterrorism efforts be modeled after welfare
reform, with states given flexibility over how to use funds for homeland
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
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