Faced with severe budget deficits across the nation, state governments are making difficult, if not impossible, choices when it comes to cutting services for their residents. Like most functions within state government, emergency management is feeling the brunt of this brutal environment. On one side are the economic constraints. On the other is the reality of disasters, which don’t care about budgets and whether resources are available or not. Only one constant remains—if a disaster occurs, citizens expect an adequate level of public resources to manage the disaster. Every well-managed disaster teaches the benefits of a comprehensive capability. Effective and exercised evacuation plans remove people from harm’s way. A fully functioning tsunami warning system saves lives. Rigorous building codes mean fewer deaths and lower costs for expensive reconstruction and debris removal after a devastating event. For the foreseeable future, the challenge for emergency management is balancing these conflicting realities while meeting the responsibility of saving lives and protecting property.

Canada and the United States are pursuing a perimeter security agreement that proponents say would allow goods and people to move more freely along the land border between the two countries and reduce costs for businesses.

The homeland security challenges facing the nation today are more complex than they were on September 11, 2001.  The transition of newly elected and appointed officials at all levels of government represents a loss of institutional knowledge for the homeland security enterprise.  The recession has affected the abilities of state and local governments and the private sector to prevent, protect, mitigate, respond and recover from disasters and emergencies.  Most ominously, there is steadily increasing attempts to bring terror and manmade destruction to the homeland of the United States.

In the world of state emergency management and homeland security, 2009 was a year of new faces, new threats and new opportunities. It began with the Obama administration tapping several state officials for the top jobs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This was followed by the first flu pandemic in 40 years, with tens of millions of Americans contracting the H1N1 virus. Technology continued to extend its long tentacles with some 40 states using social media Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter to connect with citizens about disaster preparedness and safety. All of this occurred as the country experienced its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The challenge in 2010 will be to protect investments to date and still move forward with creative problem solving while state and federal budgets make their way back from the brink.

Economic uncertainty in January 2008 evolved into a full-blown recession by the year’s end, impacting everything in its wake, from state budgets to mortgages and from college endowments to car loans. American consumers dealt with rising food costs, plummeting home values and jobs cuts while riding a rollercoaster of fluctuating gas prices. The downturn has meant the loss of sales, income and property taxes, which could have serious ramifications for important state government functions such as emergency management and homeland security. Complicating the fiscal challenges is the first transition of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to a new administration. This has led to a debate over the continued placement of the Federal Emergency Management Agency within Homeland Security. Yet even as that discussion ensues, the most destructive hurricane to hit U.S. soil since 2005—Ike—and the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, serve as reminders that an all-hazards approach to emergency preparedness and experienced leadership are the real answers to threats, whether they are natural or man-made.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that The Council of State Government urges appropriate, ongoing, and consistent federal homeland security funding; and

BE IT THEREFORE FURTHER RESOLVED that The Council of State Governments believes that federal funding for homeland security should be maintained at the current level or increased to address the current threats, as well as new and emerging threats, and the need to meet federal mandates; and

BE IT THEREFORE FURTHER RESOLVED that the traditional all hazards and first responder programs should continue to be funded.