WASHINGTON - The Bush administration intends to cut counterterrorism funding for police, firefighters and rescue departments across the country by more than half next year.
The Department of Homeland Security has given $23 billion to states and local communities to fight terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but the administration is not convinced that the money has been well-spent and thinks that the nation's highest-risk cities have largely satisfied their security needs.
The department wanted to provide $3.2 billion to help states and cities protect against terrorist attacks in 2009, but the White House said it would ask Congress for less than half -- $1.4 billion, according to a Nov. 26 document. The plan calls for outright elimination of programs for port security, transit security and local emergency management operations in the next budget year.
The White House Office of Management and Budget, which is in charge of the administration's spending plans, said nothing has been formally completed.
The proposal to eliminate the port, transit and other grants, which are popular with state and local officials, is unlikely to pass muster in Congress, which will ultimately decide the fate of the programs.
Minnesota officials said it is too soon to speculate on how a proposed cut could affect the state's homeland security and emergency management. "We'll deal with whatever resources that we're given,'' said Doug Neville, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety.
In previous years, some local communities were scrutinized for their spending of homeland security funds.
For example, Edina was awarded a grant to buy an armored car with rotating turrets and gun mounts, and Rock County in southwestern Minnesota received a 911 system that can locate cell-phone callers reporting traffic accidents.
Staff writers Mary Lynn Smith and David Chanen contributed to this report.