More than $2 million for emergency centers in North Jersey and billions for grant programs that have helped the region in the past were in a nearly $43 billion homeland security spending bill the Senate sent to President Obama on Tuesday.
Obama’s expected to sign it, even though Congress ignored his recommendation to eliminate some programs too steeped in politics. Here’s a look at the bill:
WHO’S GETTING MONEY: $60 million is provided for grants around the country to local emergency centers where public safety and civilian leaders coordinate responses to emergencies such as storms or man-made disasters. More than $5.3 million is earmarked for specific areas in New Jersey, including:
* $300,000 toward a $1.3 million emergency center Hackensack wants to build on its former pistol range in Johnson Park. City Manager Steve Lo Iacono said the city is raising money from other sources as well, but needs approvals from the state because some of the land has been preserved through the Green Acres program.
* $250,000 for Passaic County to renovate its emergency center, increase security and upgrade technology.
* $1 million for the Morris County emergency center.
* $500,000 for the North Hudson Fire and Rescue emergency center.
REJECTING OBAMA: Obama recommended in May that emergency center grants be eliminated because 60 percent of the $35 million appropriated this year was earmarked by Congress to specific places, rather than awarded where the risk was greatest. Rather that cut, Congress increased the program to $60 million, and earmarked 80 percent.
BUSES AND TRUCKS: Obama proposed eliminating security programs providing $12 million to bus companies and $8 million to trucking companies, saying federal grants were funding capital investments that private companies could make themselves. Congress did kill the truck program, but continued the bus program. New Jersey bus lines got $3.3 million in the last grant award.
SAFETY RESEARCH: The Transportation Security Administration gets $5 million to expand its explosives-detection research lab in Atlantic County. A California non-profit gets $1 million for training programs in five states, including New Jersey, on how to get different public safety communication systems to talk with each other.
REGIONAL GRANTS: Urban Area Security Grants were increased by $50 million, or 6 percent for next year. North Jersey got more than $35 million this year, which may increase. But port security grants were reduced by $100 million, or 25 percent. Obama had recommended a 37 percent cut.
(News Source: NorthJersey.com/Herb Jackson/PCJN)