June 07, 2006

Homeland Security Cuts Spark Fury

Threats to Homeland Security Grant Program funding for New York State have elected officials seeing red.

Last week, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a statement blasting the proposed cuts for program funding in fiscal year 2006, which could result in New York receiving $106.5 million less than last year.

Clinton and other officials feel that New York's funding was disproportionately slashed and fear the potential outcomes.

"As we approach the solemn and tragic fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, we are sadly reminded that New York is on its own when it comes to protecting our citizens from future terrorist attacks," she said.

Clinton demanded answers from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff as to how the funding decisions were reached. The senator also said she planned to call upon the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Governmental Affair Chairwoman Susan Collins, and Ranking Member Joseph Lieberman to request hearings to discuss the decision.

Although funding was cut across the board, Clinton said that New York's slice of the slashed pie was disproportionate and unfair. She pointed out that New York's funding under the Urban Security Initiative was cut by more than 40%, with Buffalo's share reduced by 48.5%. "These cuts demonstrate this administration's continued failure to grasp the unique security threats that face New York," she said.

Days after Clinton sounded the battle cry, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy joined the fray, siding with the senator and other elected officials such as Representative Peter King to protest the proposed budget slashes.

"The federal administration must remember that a terrorist event in New York City impacts our entire nation's economy, including the mutual funds and 401ks held by Americans from Oregon to Georgia," said Levy. "This funding shouldn't be doled as a pork barrel project."

Recently, Clinton and King also questioned how the DHS could claim that New York has just a few spots of national financial significance, with no national monuments and icons. And in doing so, the pair urged residents to send Chertoff postcards of New York landmarks as a reminder.

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