13 States Raid 9-1-1 Funds in 2009
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 | Comments
Thirteen states — Arizona, California, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin — reported that 9-1-1 collected funds are or could be used to support other programs in a FCC report submitted to Congress. In 2008, 12 states reported diverting funds. The second annual report was required by the New and Emerging Technologies 911 Improvement Act of 2008 (NET 911 Act). 
Thirty-two states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands used funds collected for 9-1-1 and enhanced 9-1-1 (E9-1-1) for their intended purposes. Two states didn’t respond, and three didn’t provide particular information.
“When our consumers see a ‘9-1-1 tax and fee’ on their wireless bills, they pay it because they believe their contribution will go to ensure their emergency wireless or wireline calls will be answered,” said Dane Snowden, CTIA vice president of external and state affairs. “Unfortunately, this report tells us a different story.” Snowden called the report “incredibly disappointing.”
The report comes from information the FCC solicited on the collection and distribution of fees and charges from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2009. Answers were received from every state and District of Columbia; Puerto Rico, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, and eight responses from Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) offices regarding Indian tribes, although only two BIAs were able to provide information on 9-1-1/E9-1-1 funding.
Collected funds estimates ranged from $1.4 million in Hawaii to more than $203.5 million in Texas. Eleven states didn’t provide fee collection information for 2009.
Table 4 in the report lists the uses of 9-1-1/E9-1-1 fees and charges from the 13 states that diverted funds for other purposes. Ten of the states — Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wisconsin — reported that they used money for the states’ general funds. Last year, five states reported using funds to assist in closing their general funds.
Other reasons for diverting 9-1-1 funds highlighted in the report included Virginia’s proposal that $8 million be transferred from the wireless E9-1-1 fund to the compensation board to support sheriffs’ 9-1-1 dispatchers. Other states used the funds for related expenses, such as administrative costs of collecting the fees or for public-safety radio communications, the report said.
Fund raiding is not new, and as the report indicated, six of the states — Illinois, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wisconsin — that raided in 2009 also did so in 2008. However, seven states — Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, Tennessee and Utah — that raided in 2008 did not raid in 2009. Seven of the 2009 raiders didn’t divert 9-1-1 funds the previous year.
Other information noted in the report included the collection policies of all jurisdictions, either via state level (22 states), local authority (11 states) or a hybrid (19). Two appendixes included in the report. Appendix A is a summary table of each states’ responses, including collection policies and amounts raised, and Appendix B features copies of some states’ responses.
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