By Beverly Bell, Senior Policy Analyst, National Emergency Management Association
The financial crisis is hitting state emergency management, and that will likely lead to job losses and cuts in resources, which means reduced assistance for those affected by disasters.
That’s according to a recent survey of state emergency management directors across the country.
The National Emergency Management Association, a CSG affiliate, polled those people responsible for coordinating disaster management in the states. The state emergency management agency is the central coordination point for all resources and assistance provided during disasters and emergencies, including acts of terrorism.
Among the survey’s findings:
Twenty-five of the 36 responding states—about 69 percent—said they expect a budget reduction in the 2010 fiscal year. The anticipated cuts range from approximately $76,000 in Idaho to nearly $7 million in Pennsylvania, and represent as much as 40 percent of the budget.
Eight states with rainy day or disaster trust funds will use the special set-aside funds to cover shortfalls in the general fund.
Twenty-three states—that’s 64 percent of respondents—have a hiring freeze or are leaving staff positions vacant, affecting from one to 31 jobs.
Staff positions will be eliminated in 13 states, or more than one-third of those responding. One to 17 jobs will be lost.
Twelve states are furloughing employees one to two days a month to address budget shortfalls.
Budget cuts will affect emergency management planning, training, exercises and matching funds for federal disaster assistance grants.
Twenty-six of the responding states, or 72 percent, imposed travel restrictions.
Twenty-one states, or 58 percent, said the 50 percent state match for the Emergency Management Performance Grant will be their biggest challenge.
This last finding is significant because the grant program is the only source of federal money directed to state and local governments for planning, training, exercises and personnel for all-hazards emergency preparedness.
States in the past have received from $2 million to $23 million depending on their size and scope of program. Like most federal grants, the Emergency Management Performance Grant requires a 50-50 match. States unable to provide the match lose out on federal dollars. This has a trickle-down effect, because the majority of states pass through a percentage to local jurisdictions. Budget cuts that impact this program will mean fewer dollars for communities and counties.