NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 25, 2005

Pretending all states are equally vulnerable to terrorist attacks and deserve the same amount of funding under-protects high risk states, while overfunding low-risk states. By trying to protect everywhere, Congress ensures we protect nowhere adequately, says Veronique de Rugy, a research scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and James Jay Carafano, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

Under the current Homeland Security grant program:

  • Grants to state and local governments are allocated based on a formula that guarantees every state an equal, minimum amount of funds -- 75 percent of all grant money allocated -- regardless of need.
  • As a result, less populated areas often receive a disproportionate amount of money; Wyoming gets $37.74 per capita while California and New York get less than $5.50.

This strategy makes Americans less safe. In the name of security, de Rugy and Carafano say we should get rid of the requirement that every state gets part of the homeland security money. And, to the extent minimums are included, they should be kept low to provide maximum funding to areas of greatest risk.

Fortunately, some in Congress share this view. The House passed a bill last May that would change the criteria used to distribute funding to 25 percent. However, the Senate passed a different bill that would only slightly decrease the minimum to 55 percent.

Leading this fight are rural states and the states of the upper Midwest who could lose funding under a risk based system. But de Rugy and Carafano say winners and losers in this situation are not counted by dollars brought home by Congress members, but rather by how effectively homeland security money is used to reduce the risk of terrorism.

Source: Veronique de Rugy and James Jay Carafano, "Congress' Homeland Insecurity," Tech Central Station, August 5 2005.

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