There is no question that our public safety professionals – first responders, police, firefighters, paramedics – are amazing individuals. They put their lives on the line to save others. While others run away from a disaster, they run to it. Quite simply, these men and women are amazing.
So it is disheartening to read in the FCC’s Report to Congress on State Collection and Distribution of 911 and Enhanced 911 fees and Charges that New York, Georgia, Illinois, Arizona, Guam and Maine took money away from their states’ 911 fund to cover their general funds. Specifically, here’s the amount each state took:
- New York: $22.8 million
- Georgia: $13.7 million
- Illinois: $2.9 million
- Arizona: $2.2 million
- Guam: $486,323
- Maine: $24,568
Let me be clear on the seriousness of this issue because I hope you will join CTIA and our members to stop states from raiding their 911 funds for non-911 purposes.
Almost every wireless user pays a 911 fee on their monthly bills (in many states, those with prepaid plans also contribute to the 911 system). Take a look at your bill. No matter who your provider is, you’ll see this 911 fee clearly labeled. Like millions of customers, you pay it because you believe it’s going to pay for your state’s 911 emergency communications system. It’s to make sure your state is Phase II Enhanced 911 compliant. Here’s a map so you can see what phase your state and county has completed.
As a resident of NY, I can tell you that I’m extremely concerned about the state raiding almost $23 million last year. When I pay a fee that is designated for something as important as 911 services, I expect these public safety professionals will have the infrastructure and equipment they need to do their job. It’s really the least we can do.
I hope you will join CTIA and our members in calling for the U.S. Congress to create a federal law that would prevent states from raiding these funds. We’ve been calling for Congress to do this for several years now (2011, 2010 and 2009), but we need your help to get it done. The FCC’s 2012 report needs to be the last one that shows states raiding 911 funds.
We owe it to our nation’s public safety professionals who protect us every single day to make sure they have what they need to perform their jobs as safely, effectively and efficiently as possible. Taking their money to cover states’ general budget deficit is not the right answer.