Gordon seeks meeting with Bush after funds shortfall

Posted on May 29, 2006 | Type: In the News | Author: Mike Sunnucks
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Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon has written President Bush and wants a face-to-face meeting to talk about the city's share of homeland security and anti-terrorism funding.

Gordon is upset with Bush administration security outlays to states and major metropolitan areas that were announced Wednesday. The mayor feels the Phoenix metro area is being shortchanged.

The Phoenix metro area received $3.9 million in that allotment, less than smaller markets including Omaha, Neb.; Memphis, Tenn.; Louisville, Ky.; and Columbus, Ohio.

It is also a decrease from last year when Phoenix received $10 million in homeland security grants. "It's incredulous to me," said Gordon, a moderate Democrat.

The mayor argues Phoenix should get more money because of its proximity to the Mexican border and because the region is home to a number of potential terrorist targets, such as dams, Luke Air Force Base and the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station (the largest nuclear powerplant in the U.S.).

Gordon said Thursday the request was his first for a face-to-face meeting with a U.S. president.

Statewide, Arizona received just under $21 million in security money distributed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

That ranked 24th behind large states such as California and Texas and smaller ones, including Nebraska, Kentucky and Indiana.

The mayor also on Thursday defended his and other mayors' opposition to state tax cuts they worry will reduce revenue for local governments.

Arizona has voter-approved tax policies that have the state collect income taxes and share some of that with cities. Gordon and other mayors, including Glendale's Elaine Scruggs, worry income tax cuts will bite into shared revenues and threaten spending on police, fire and homeland security.

Tax cut backers, including the Goldwater Institute think tank, counter that cities including Phoenix are still forecasted to receive more tax revenue in the future even with the cuts. Goldwater president Darcy Olsen also questions Phoenix's budgetary worries when the city is spending money for a new downtown hotel and other construction projects.

Gordon said the state tax cuts threaten future local revenue -- as much as $15 million annually -- and that the construction projects mentioned by Olsen are from capital bond programs and cannot be spent on salaries and agency operations.

The mayor said the economic fallout from 9/11 led to budget cuts in non-public safety areas and the region's growth requires cities to keep up with fire and police protection. Gordon said the state's $1.2 billion budget surplus should make it possible for the Republican-majority Legislature to offer tax reductions that also do not decrease cities' current share of incoming revenue.

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