By Brock N. Meeks Chief Washington correspondent
msnbc.com
updated 9/8/2005 4:01:57 PM ET 2005-09-08T20:01:57

Federal homeland security spending in grants, contracts and salaries for fiscal 2003 totaled $16.9 billion, according to a report released Thursday by the Census Bureau.  Of that money, New York received the largest share, $4.2 billion, and Wyoming the smallest, $12.5 million, among the 50 states and District of Columbia.

The Department of Homeland Security spending figures are included for the first time in the Census Bureau’s annual Consolidated Federal Funds Report. DHS was created on Jan. 24, 2003 but didn’t officially open its doors until March 1st of that year.

Following New York and rounding out the top five in total federal homeland security funds received were:  Texas, $1.9 billion; Washington, D.C., $1.8 billion; Virginia, $1.69 billion; and California, $897.3 million.

Those figures are generally in keeping with perceived levels of threats.  Maryland, which is located in the Washington, D.C. triangle and houses several critical government personnel and facilities, ranked seventh at $431 million received.

However, when the dollars are looked at on a per capita basis, the figures begin to skew a bit.  Washington, D.C. tops the list in per capita spending, with the figure averaging $3,153 per person for a city of about 563,384.  Virginia, which houses the Pentagon, the CIA, several military bases, as well as many top government officials, received the second most money per person, $229. New York received $221 per person. 

The national average in per capita homeland security spending was $58.32, the report said.  Wisconsin ($65.7 million) ranked last in per person spending with only $12 dollars. By comparison, Wyoming, which ranked last in total dollars received, actually received double the amount of homeland security dollars per person than Wisconsin.

Pennsylvania ($186 million), which directly experienced the effects of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, ranked near the bottom in per-capita spending, receiving just over $15. 

David Sanko, Pennsylvania’s emergency management director, said the Census Bureau formulation was misleading because it doesn't include loans and payments made by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Additionally, Sanko said the figures were misleading because they include salaries of DHS employees working in the state.

“Does that mean that because a lot of federal government employees are housed in Washington, D.C., that Washington, D.C. is more protected?  I don’t think so,” Sanko said.  “I think Washington, D.C., has a fine protection system, but it’s not because of the largesse of the federal government being located there.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL, said his state’s share of homeland security money is “a crying shame.”  Florida ranked sixth in total dollars ($458 million) but ranked 25th in dollars per-capita ($26.92). 

Dave Halstead, who heads Florida’s Office of Domestic Preparedness, countered Nelson’s concern by noting that since 9/11 security has ramped up greatly throughout the sate. 

"We are 100 percent better after 9/11 and we are going to continue to improve," said Halstead.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, which ranked last in the amount of homeland security dollars per person received from the federal government, Paul Guequierre, a spokesman for the Office of Justice Assistance, which administers homeland security, waxed philosophical.

“Of course we wish we would get more, but is there widespread panic? Absolutely not," said Guequierre. "Population is a big thing, and vulnerability. We would expect to [receive] a lot less than New York and California."

Congress also is working on the inequity of funding issue.  The Homeland Security Grant Enhancement Act was attached to the intelligence reform bill that passed the Senate on Wednesday.  The language in that bill ensures a minimum level of funding for all states while doubling spending in those states considered to be a greatest risk for another terrorist attack.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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