Millions of dollars worth of homeland security grants have flowed to Washington state and local governments for everything from bomb-defusing robots to planning and training to respond to a terrorist attack or a catastrophic earthquake. McClatchy Newspapers report that now, with state and local jurisdictions struggling financially and considering sharp cuts in their own budgets, the Department of Homeland Security wants them to start sharing in the cost. The department has signaled it may require a 25 percent match to the grants. Local officials say they don’t have that type of money.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), has introduced legislation to block the matching funds requirements. Murray called the requirement for matching funds “irresponsible and unrealistic” and said cash-strapped local jurisdictions just don’t have the funds to meet such requirements. During the current fiscal year, Washington state, its counties and other local jurisdictions are receiving about $31 million in funding from the five main homeland security grant programs. The money is not just to prepare for a terrorist incident. “Osama bin Laden is not sitting in a cave in Pakistan plotting against the city of Tacoma,” said one official. Washington counties are engaged in “all hazards planning” including preparations for windstorms, floods, earthquakes and even volcanic dangers.