U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Susan Collins and Senator Olympia Snowe today announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has informed them that it will correct the way in which it determines the minimum amount of funding provided to Maine and other States under the state Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP). In January, Senators Collins and Snowe were joined by 12 others Senators in sending a letter to then-Secretary Michael Chertoff questioning the Department’s formula used to determine funding. With the change in calculation, Maine may now receive up to an additional $460,000 in homeland security funds.

“Our nation’s law enforcement personnel, firefighters, emergency medical service providers, and emergency managers rely on critical federal grant programs to protect and safeguard us from terrorist attacks and natural disasters,” said Senator Collins. “This additional money will fund important prevention, protection, response, and recovery activities among first responders in our local communities. Maine’s long international border, its expansive coastline, and its proximity to major populations centers such as New York and Boston require the State to be prepared to stop terrorists before they strike, to train for all hazards, and to deal with looming threats such as a pandemic disease. This funding will provide a significant boost to the capabilities of first responders throughout Maine.”

“Adequate funding provided by the federal government is critical to ensuring effective synergies between all public safety branches – especially those firefighters, policemen, and state and local law enforcement agencies who courageously stand on the front lines and protect our communities each and every day,” said Senator Snowe. “This funding will ensure Maine’s first responders have access to the resources they need to invest in the kind of new technology, equipment, and training programs that are vital in guaranteeing our country’ s swift and comprehensive response any national crisis- the kind of response that ultimately saves American lives.”

The 2007 homeland security law, co-authored by Senator Collins, required DHS to provide a certain percentage of SHSGP funds to every state. However, in determining those calculations, DHS removed a large amount of funding from the total pool of available funds prior to making those calculations, thereby reducing the guaranteed minimum for every state. By correcting this mistake, DHS is now complying with the 2007 law and ensuring that all states will now receive higher minimum grant allocations. Final grant awards for the 2009 SHSGP program will be announced in June.