Governor Romney Calls for Homeland Security Funding Changes
By Ed Somers
July 12, 2004
Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney addressed the nation's mayors on June 28 and called on Congress to enact changes to the first responder program that will help cities access the funding.
Governor Romney chaired the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Task Force on State and Local Homeland Security Funding, with Akron Mayor Donald L. Plusquellic serving as Vice Chair. Prior to being elected Governor, Romney led the Salt Lake City Olympics, and during his remarks recognized Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson for his work as Olympic host.
Speaking on the work of the DHS Task Force, the Governor said, "We were surprised to find how little of the funding that Congress had appropriated had actually made it through to municipalities and local law enforcement that needed the money. It was hung up."
In defining the nature of the problem, the Governor said it was "less of an issue of malevolence, but more one of a labyrinth of bureaucracy... at the state and local level" and "some things that Congress forgot about."
For example, the Governor pointed out that while there were deadlines set by Congress for DHS to get money to the states, and the states to get money to local governments, in most states the money was sent to counties without deadlines for them to get money to the cities. "Some counties have long processes that would go on for months, or even a year before they could get money to municipalities," Romney said.
He said that changes are needed to "cut through whatever federal law, state laws, regulations or procedures exist to get money to cities and towns that need it fast."
The Governor also spoke about the need for better information sharing from the federal government to state and local governments, and within states. He also credited Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino for his cooperation and leadership.
Romney concluded by expressing concern that most of the federal money so far has gone to equipment and training, but none has gone for "first prevention" or intelligence priorities.
Plusquellic: Mayors Must Push Congress
Plusquellic thanked Governor Romney for his leadership on the Task Force and said, "You sounded like a mayor."
Plusquellic highlighted some of the key recommendations in the Task Force report including:
- Exemption from reimbursement provisions of the Cash Management Act;
- Flexibility for overtime;
- Funding for incremental operational costs such as the protection of critical infrastructure and major events; and
- Deadlines for the obligation of grants from one level of local government to another.
The Conference adopted a strong resolution in support of the Task Force report and recommendations. However, Plusquellic stressed, "This isn't going to happen because we issued a report, it's going to happen if Congress changes the requirements, and we all need to work on our Representatives and Senators."