Lost in states

Federal block grants, administered by the states, have long been used to get money to city governments.

That formula has been adopted for homeland security funding for first responders, but not everyone is pleased.

In House testimony in October, James Garner, mayor of Hempstead, N.Y., and president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said that 80 percent to 90 percent of the cities his organization surveyed failed to receive money from state block grants for homeland security. "We believe that money intended for local first responders should not be provided through the states," Garner said.

Instead, he and other municipal leaders seek direct funding from the federal government. Garner testified that state money gets mired in county or regional governments, which don't have deadlines for providing funds to cities.

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