FEDERAL LAWMAKERS, GOVERNOR BLAST BUSH HOMELAND SECURITY BUDGET
United States Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), as well as Governor Jon S. Corzine (D-NJ) and U.S. Representative Donald M. Payne (D-NJ), today joined together to denounce President Bush's proposed homeland security budget - a budget that will negatively impact New Jersey's ability to equip first responders, and to protect trains, buses, ports, and chemical plants. In discussing an analysis released today by their offices, the officials said the proposed budget freezes funding for critical security grant programs and slashes others by as much as 94 percent.
"Just months after the passage of historic ports security legislation, the president's budget proposes just half of what the new law says is necessary to protect our ports," Menendez said. "The president refuses to scale back his tax cuts for multi-millionaires at all - yet he has no compunction with slashing by half the funding needed to properly secure our ports. I look forward to working with my colleagues to reject this ill-conceived and ill-advised budget. There is too much at stake for us to sit silently while the security of our state is threatened by the President's misguided priorities and values."
"The president's budget offers insecurity on New Jersey's rails and roads, insecurity on Amtrak and insecurity when it comes to protecting the communities surrounding our chemical plants," Lautenberg said. "More people per capita rely on public transportation in our state than in any other state in the country, but President Bush neglects transit security. New Jersey has the toughest chemical security laws in the country but the president wants to strike them down and fund his weaker measures in this budget. Together, Senator Menendez and I will help craft a federal budget that works for New Jersey."
"Homeland security funding should be distributed according to threat, vulnerability, and consequence," said Corzine. "The state is doing its part, and now we need the federal government to step up and do the same."
"Denying first responders, including firefighters and law enforcement offices, the resources they need to protect our New Jersey communities is wrong and dangerous," Payne said. "First responders were our heroes on September 11th. I will be vigorously opposing these short-sighted budget proposals which undermine homeland security effectiveness."
President Bush's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year jeopardizes New Jersey's ability to carry on its homeland security efforts in the future. The budget provides no additional funding for port security grants, transit security grants, and calls for significant cuts to first responder funding. In addition, the Bush administration proposes to cut funding for state homeland security grants and urban area grants targeted to densely-populated areas with high-risk targets.
The successful COPS program that has added nearly 5,000 police officers on New Jersey's streets is cut by a staggering 94 percent. Included in these cuts is $140 million Congress provided for critical law enforcement technologies and interoperable communications. Critical funding to fire departments is cut almost in half. In addition, Byrne Justice Grants, which support a wide range of law enforcement activities and help local law enforcement partner with state and federal agencies, would be cut by nearly one-third. New Jersey received more than $7 million in the last funding year.
The president calls for no increase for transit, rail, or bus security. His budget would spend just $237 million for all surface transportation security needs, just a tiny fraction of the $4.9 billion he is proposing to spend on aviation security. This is the first year the president has requested any funding specifically for rail or transit security, but it falls far short of the $6 billion the nation's transit agencies say is necessary to upgrade security.