Officials say throwing cash at terrorism not solution

Monday, November 26, 2001

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- With Missouri's budget situation likely to get worse, the state's security adviser said pouring money into anti-terrorist measures may not be practical.

Tim Daniel, Gov. Bob Holden's security adviser, said organization and communication might provide more solutions than randomly dumping money into the cause.

"Let's be judicious and understand where we want to be in the future," said Daniel, whose salary is $100,000 annually. "There's a lot of trade-offs here. The rush to judgment to throw money at this may not be the right thing to do."

As an example, Daniel cited Alaska, where state officials are looking for $100 million to improve security in that state. But Daniel said it would be up to the federal government to pay "it's fair share" of the new security efforts.

$700,000 for upgrades

Last week, Holden's 32-member security panel met for the first time to discuss the best way to protect the state against terror attacks.

The meeting came less than a week after economic forecasts indicated the governor may have to withhold an additional $100 million in funding from state agencies to help prevent a budget shortfall.

Missouri has already spent more than $700,000 on security upgrades and, despite hopes that federal money may be on the way, key state officials are looking to do more with less.

Maureen Dempsey, the head of the Department of Health and Senior Services, said she expects the panel to look for solutions beyond the funding issue.

"I don't think the panel is only about resources," Dempsey said. "Obviously, resources will come up in the discussion, they'll have to."

Dempsey, whose department has been considering how to deal with a potential biological or chemical attack, said communication between agencies on how to respond is key.

Dempsey's department has already received a little financial relief from Holden. The governor allowed the release of more than $160,000 for additional health staff to prepare for a potential biological or chemical attack.

Panel paying expenses

Meanwhile, Holden said last week the panel is trying to hold down costs by having members pick up much of the expenses for things like travel.

That type of frugality aside, much of the funding for security-related measures will have to come from lawmakers aware of the tight budget and needs of their constituents.

With layoffs in the airline industry in Missouri and an unemployment rate that went from 4.2 percent in September to 4.5 percent in October, finding money becomes increasingly more difficult.

At the same time, state income tax withholdings, while still growing compared to last year, are about 25 percent lower than projections. State sales tax collections also are slightly below forecasts.

Another round of budget cuts could force Holden to consider eliminating jobs and government services.

Sen. John Russell, R-Lebanon, and chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said he's struggling to resolve the need for better security and fiscal responsibility.

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