FCC Commissioner Reprimands 3 States for Continually Diverting 9-1-1 Fees
Wednesday, April 10, 2019 | Comments

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly took three governors to task for their states’ practices of diverting 9-1-1 fees to other uses in a letter dated April 5.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo received the letter, which called the three states “habitual diverters of 9-1-1 fees,” and said they “appear to have little interest in correcting this harmful behavior.”

O’Rielly said the three states diverted the most money, in both total funding diverted and on a percentage basis, according to the FCC’s most recent report. Specifically, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island were responsible for diversions of $170.9 million, $94.2 million and $11.4 million, equating to 90.35%, 77.26% and 67.7%, respectively, of monies received.

In the case of Rhode Island and New Jersey, the collected funds diverted were used for purposes completely unrelated or not demonstrated to be related to emergency communications. In New York, the commission found that the vast majority of funding did not go to 9-1-1-related purposes and a mere $10 million of the $75 million in the state’s various “public safety grants” were 9-1-1 related.

The letter said diverting 9-1-1 fees undermines the willingness of consumers to support 9-1-1, shortchanges the budgets of emergency centers and prevents systems from being upgraded, and makes the three states ineligible for new federal funding to modernize emergency centers. “This entire situation, however, is entirely fixable,” O’Rielly said. “If you are ready to exert the necessary leadership, I stand ready to work with you to eliminate the 9-1-1 fee diversion practices of your respective states.” The full letter is here.

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