WASHINGTON — Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees the Department of Homeland Security, announced today that the Department of Homeland Security has approved Maine’s application for $5.7 million in homeland security grant funding and that the department has made $15.2 million available to Maine. The funds will help the state, local governments and first responders pay for planning, training, equipment and exercises, as well as help offset the costs of enhanced security measures required by the nation’s heightened threat alert.
“These funds will help Maine’s first responders and local officials better protect our communities,” Collins said. “I am pleased that Maine will soon receive a $5.7 million down payment on satisfying its homeland security needs. I am also pleased that the $15.2 million in future resources will come with increased flexibility for states and localities, which I have proposed in legislation. Maine’s state and local officials and first responders know how to spend these resources better than Washington. So why should Washington tell Maine how much – down to the dollar – must be spent on equipment, planning, training and exercises? My bill would give Maine the money without the straitjacket.”
The $5.7 million for Maine is part of the $600 million allocated in the 2003 omnibus appropriations bill approved earlier this year. The Maine Emergency Management Agency will receive these funds and distribute them according to the application Maine submitted to the department. At the recommendation of Maine’s first responders and Art Cleaves, Director of the Maine Emergency Management Agency, Senator Collins has introduced legislation to allow state and local officials and first responders added flexibility in spending these funds.
On Thursday, Collins’ committee will hold the second in a series of hearings to examine how the federal government can more efficiently and effectively provide first responders with the assistance they need. Secretary Tom Ridge will testify at the hearing to discuss the ongoing challenges involved with providing assistance to states, localities and first responders. Senator Collins will outline her legislative proposal to streamline and strengthen homeland security grant programs at the hearing. Portland Police Chief Mike Chitwood testified at the committee’s first hearing in the series, and Maine Emergency Management Director Art Cleaves is scheduled to testify at the committee’s next hearing on May 15, 2003. The $15.2 million available to Maine is part of the $1.5 billion allocated in the 2003 supplemental appropriations bill approved earlier this month. The awards will be distributed by the department’s Office for Domestic Preparedness.
Application forms are posted on the web at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/fundopps.htm. States have until May 30, 2003 to complete and submit their applications.