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Press Release · January 16, 2004

Federal Formula Grants and California: Homeland Security

In two years, federal funding for homeland security has increased tenfold. For fiscal years 2003 and 2004, Congress appropriated more than $5 billion per year to help state and local first responders prepare for and respond to acts of terrorism. However, politically-crafted formulas distribute most of those dollars, sending disproportionately large amounts to states and localities that are less populated and are home to fewer potential terror targets (ports, economic focal points, and national icons) than states like California. For example, in 2004, California will receive $5 per capita (the least of any state) from the largest grant, whereas Wyoming will receive $38 per capita.

Federal Formula Grants and California: Homeland Security outlines the federal programs that distribute grants to the nation’s first responders, examines the mechanics of formulas that determine funding levels for California and other states, and discusses legislative proposals to change these formulas. The report finds that California wins a larger share of grants to enhance security in urban areas, but those grants do not compensate for the state’s formula funding shortfall. Responding to criticism, Congress is considering legislation to base grants on estimates of assets, population, and threat. Considering the state’s current share, most proposed changes would increase funding for California.

This report is the seventh in an ongoing series reviewing California’s share of federal formula grant programs. Upcoming reports will examine funding for transit programs and child care. The series was developed at the request of the bipartisan leadership of California’s congressional delegation and is produced by PPIC in collaboration with the California Institute for Federal Policy Research.

We hope you find this and future reports valuable, and we welcome your feedback as we seek to inform the public debate regarding this important subject. If you have any questions, please contact us by phone (Abby: 415/291-4436; Victoria: 415/291-4412) or email (; You can reach the author, Tim Ransdell, Executive Director of the California Institute, at 202/546-3700 or

The Public Policy Institute of California is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research on major economic, social, and political issues. The institute was established in 1994 with an endowment from William R. Hewlett. PPIC does not take or support positions on any ballot measure or on any local, state, or federal legislation, nor does it endorse, support, or oppose any political parties or candidates for public office.