State Lawmakers Shut Out Of Stimulus Decisions


Police, prosecutors, and other law enforcers are welcoming money from the new federal stimulus law, particularly after federal funding for state and local public safety initiatives plummeted during the Bush administration's last years, says Some state legislators are alarmed that they have no stake in managing or overseeing the money and are worried about what happens when it runs out. Executive branch agencies usually handle federal grants for law enforcement. With so much stimulus money at stake – and so much attention being focused on states' oversight of it – lawmakers want a seat at the table, too.

The biggest single slice of the federal law enforcement money – roughly $2 billion in federal grants that pay for everything from drug task forces to prosecutors – will not flow through state legislatures. Some lawmakers are worried about expanding criminal justice efforts using federal cash, only to have the state stuck with the tab in the end. Utah state Rep. Paul Ray said he told a local official that stimulus money could be used to hire four new police officers, “but in two to four years, that money's gone.”

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