Aid sought to fight terrorism

Thursday, November 29, 2001

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missouri could end up asking the federal government for more than $280 million to help combat terrorist attacks, top state officials said Wednesday.

After a request from the Federal Emergency Management Agency about two weeks ago, Missouri hastily came up with the $280 million estimate for federal assistance, officials said.

At the time, state security adviser Tim Daniel said that figure was not based on any hard facts but was merely in response to the federal request.

Gov. Bob Holden said further meetings of a special security panel he appointed would refine the estimate.

"We've been very hesitant about putting a number together until we get good documentation," Holden said in an interview Wednesday. "We think it could be significantly higher than that, but until we look at all the public health and public safety issues, I don't think we can give a definitive number yet."

Holden said he hoped his 32-member security panel could prepare a document showing the federal government that Missouri would not squander any assistance it receives.

The money would be used to pay for equipment, training, facilities, supplies and personnel to provide additional security.

Some of the money also would be used to bolster the ability of local governments and law enforcement to deal with a biological or chemical attack, Holden said.

Strategy needed

Daniel has said that strategy and coordination are more important at this point than merely requesting money without a plan.

"There are a lot of requests from across the country for the federal government to just send money," Holden said. "We don't want to throw money at the problem. We want to make sure we make wise use of taxpayer money."

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and confirmed cases of anthrax, state officials have been seeking ways to fund increased security measures.

But with a tight budget, the amount the state would be able to fund is only a small portion of what is needed.

To date, the state has spent $700,000 on tougher security and Missouri also released more than $160,000 to the Department of Health and Senior Services to bolster staff that deal with biological or chemical threats.

House Speaker Jim Kreider, D-Nixa, said in a separate interview that he was aware of the state's potential federal funding request.

"The budget situation in this state is bleak," Kreider said. "I don't know where we're going to get the money for security measures, but they've got to be a priority. We're hoping the federal government will help the states out. I'll believe it when I see it."

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