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Davis Criticizes Bush, Saying States Left With Security's Bill

March 09, 2003|From Associated Press

SACRAMENTO — California Gov. Gray Davis criticized the Bush administration and the Republican-led Congress on Saturday for failing to reimburse states for their homeland security costs.

"For all the tough talk coming out of Washington these days, this administration and the Republican leadership in Congress have thus far stuck us with the bill," Davis said in the Democratic Party's weekly radio address.

Target-rich California alone is spending more than $500 million a year on increased security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Davis said. During the recent national upgrade to alert level "orange," the California Highway Patrol spent more than $1 million on extra patrols and precautions over a two-week period, he said.

Davis taped his address before the Homeland Security Department announced late Friday that it would make $566 million in grants available to states to help local public safety officials cover anti-terrorism costs.

California is scheduled to get the largest share, $45 million.

"This money is an important step in getting the states and localities better prepared to deal with potential terrorist incidents," Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said. "This investment will create new capabilities to protect us against terrorism, and it will integrate traditional security functions in a new and better way. Together with the help of our brave men and women in uniform, we will continue the hard work to defend and protect our nation from harm."

In California, National Guard troops have been deployed at bridges such as San Francisco's Golden Gate, and Highway Patrol officers have been providing security on in-state airline flights during routine trips under a first-in-the-nation program.

Last week, Davis said at a news conference, "We are technically at war; these costs should be reimbursed by Congress."

Davis and other governors pleaded their case in Washington two weeks ago, repeating a theme they've sounded since shortly after the attacks.

"Last year, the president promised $3.5 billion for first responders," Davis said in his radio remarks. "To date, we've received only a tiny fraction of that. States and local communities are standing on the front line, but we're being left to fend for ourselves."

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