First responder funding upped

The Homeland Security Department, criticized for not spending enough money on first responders, announced April 8 that it is earmarking an additional $100 million from the fiscal 2003 budget to help local governments fight terrorism.

The latest infusion of money is in addition to the $566 million that the Office for Domestic Preparedness provided last month to meet such first responder needs as equipment, training, planning and exercises.

The funds come in the wake of criticism from state and local government officials, already strapped by tight budgets, that the federal government was not providing enough help in the fight against terrorism. A recent survey by the nation's mayors found that U.S. cities are spending about $70 million a week on additional homeland security measures.

The $100 million was awarded by applying a formula based on a combination of factors, such as population density, critical infrastructure and threat/vulnerability assessment. The additional funds included:

* $24.7 to New York City to protect the city's critical sites. Previously, the city had received $26 million.

* $18 million to Washington, D.C., in addition to the $45 million previously made available.

* $12.4 million to Los Angeles, in addition to the $45 million already received.

* $11 million to Chicago, in addition to the $19 million provided to the state of Illinois.

* $11 million to San Francisco, in addition to the $45 million previously made available to the state of California.

The White House wants to give still more money for first responders. President Bush has requested an additional $2 billion in funds in the fiscal 2003 supplemental budget to help states and localities. In addition, the Homeland Security Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide $750 million in grants directly to fire departments around the country for equipment, training and education.

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