By Grant Hallmark
Alabama Political Reporter
“It will be about a 40 to 50 percent cut in the state’s homeland security budget,” says John Schremser, spokesperson for the head of the Alabama Department of Homeland Security Spencer Collier (ADHS).
After several years of federal cuts, the ALDHS is starting to feel the pain. This means no new equipment for police or fire prevention departments anytime soon. It also means the probably cut of several programs that are funded through by federal funds. One such program is the “Cities Readiness Initiative.” This program prepares cities for acts of bioterrorism or outbreaks of epidemics. While Schremser said they would have to wait until they receive budgetary guidance in the spring, this program was likely to be cut.
While there will be cuts, there are programs that will be treated as vital and will be protected. The cyber security initiative, a law enforcement readiness program, and Alabama’s Fusion Center are the core faculties of the ADHS that will be funded. The Fusion Center, which is near the top of Director Janet Napolitano’s priority list, is a nexus of communication for “all-hazards.” According to Schremser, the Fusion Center worked so well with law enforcement that it has been broadened to include all emergency responders. These programs will remain intact, if not fully funded.
These cuts and reduction in funds for functioning programs will be a blow to the ADHS. However, the ADHS will require more funds from the state’s general fund to fulfill its newly bestowed duties. According to the Alabama’s new immigration law, the state’s homeland security department is responsible for maintaining the E-Verify system. This will require a 25 percent increase in general funding for the department to run the citizenship authentication system.
For an already cash-strapped state budget, this could pose a problem. Nevertheless, Schremser is assured the funding will be there. “Until the legislature changes its mind, we will require an increase in funding from the general fund.”