WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman Thursday said he was deeply disappointed with the Administration’s impending decision to eliminate millions of dollars in homeland security grants that have flowed to Connecticut for most of the past decade – a 50 percent reduction compared to last year.
The reductions are the direct result of cuts to the Department of Homeland Security budget for the last six months of the current fiscal year.
Half of all cities nationwide that received Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grants, which helps major metropolitan areas prevent and prepare for terrorist attacks, will be cut from the program in Fiscal Year 2011, including Connecticut’s two UASI cities, Hartford and Bridgeport. Connecticut will also lose 42 percent of its general homeland security grants and 38 percent of its port security grants.
“I understand that everyone must sacrifice to bring our federal deficit under control. But I do not support cutting the budget on the back of our national security, particularly since foreign and homegrown terrorists will continue to try to strike us here at home. On September 11, 2001, Connecticut firefighters and police officers raced to New York City to assist in the aftermath of the disaster there. They would do so again, if necessary, and they need to be properly trained and equipped if they do.”
Deep cuts will be experienced by dozens of states and cities across the country and come as part of the federal government’s efforts to trim the federal budget and reduce the deficit.
Across the board, the UASI grant will be trimmed by 20 percent. Thirty-two of 64 UASI cities have been eliminated from the program. The State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) will be reduced by about 37 percent, across the board. Port security grants will be cut by 18 percent.
Connecticut’s two UASI metropolitan areas – Bridgeport and Hartford – will no longer be eligible for the grant in FY 2011. In FY 2010, Bridgeport and Hartford received $2.8 million and $2.7 million respectively in UASI money. Since 2008, when those two cities first became eligible to receive UASI grants, they have received approximately $7.5 million each.
Connecticut port security grants, which have flowed to Bridgeport, New Haven, and New London over the years, will be pared to $1.4 million from $2.2 million in FY 2010. The three cities received $4.5 million in FY 2009.
Since 2002, Connecticut has received nearly a billion dollars in homeland security grant funding. This funding has supported training and equipping first responders, improving interoperable communications, establishing fusion centers, promoting information sharing, and protecting critical infrastructure around the state.