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FCC Letters to Governors of NY, NJ and RI Re: 911 Fee Diversion

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Print View Posted: Tue Apr 09 2019, 05:50pm
Posted by: ipfd320Posts: 1845
User Buff Group ID
Location: Martin County Florida
Donating Member: 2008
Joined: Sat Mar 31 2007, 02:05am

Commissioner O'Rielly Letter to Governors of NY, NJ and RI Re: 911 Fee Diversion

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
WASHINGTON DC
April 5, 2019

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor, State of New York
NYS State Capital Building
Albany, NY 12224

The Honorable Gina M. Raimondo
Governor State of Rhode Island
Office of the Governor
82 Smith Street
Providence, RI 02903

The Honorable Phil Murphy
Governor, State of New Jersey
Office of Governor
PC Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625

Dear Governors:
As you know, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) has been charged by the
U.S. Congress with ensuring that 9-1-1 consumer fees paid to states, territories, and some localities are
used for their intended purpose. While leaders within other states and territories guilty of diverting
such funds have been willing to end their practices, unfortunately your three states, which are habitual
diverters of 9-1-1 fees, appear to have little interest in correcting this harmful behavior. Regrettably, I
find it necessary to personally implore you to reconsider the diversionary tactics being used within your
states in order to strengthen the public safety communications capabilities available to those living and
traveling within your borders.

To put the problem in context, your respective states diverted the most money in both total funding
diverted and on a percentage basis, according to the Commission’s most recent report.{1} In particular,
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 were not demonstrated to be related to emergency communications. Similarly, 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 states’ various “public safety grants” were 9-1-1 related.

-{Footnote(s)}-
________________________________________________________________________________________________

-{1}-Tenth Annual Report to Congress on State Collection and Distribution of 911 and Enhanced 911 Fees and Charges
for the Period of January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017 (Dec. 17, 2018),
[link].
________________________________________________________________________________________________


Diversion of 9-1-1 fees is a serious public safety matter. The mere act undermines the willingness of
consumers, feeling duped by their local and state representatives, to support current levels and future
raises in program spending, even when there is a compelling need to modernize individual systems.
Without assurances that the funding is being spent on 9-1-1 functions, the validity of the fee imposition
and the confidence in emergency call systems is damaged. In addition, the diversions in your states call
into question and reduce overall support for the entire fee structure, even in areas outside your states.
In other words, your fee collections’ untrustworthiness is contagious.

More importantly, spending precious 9-1-1 funds on unrelated matters shortchanges the budgets of
emergency call centers and has prevented systems from being upgraded. Having visited each of your
states to understand the impact of such diversions, I can share with you that your call centers are either
not sufficiently robust (e.g., NG91-ready) or are forced to supplement local call center budgets with
local revenues to compensate for fees siphoned off by the state government. While the public safety
officials I met with are proud of the amazing work performed by their dedicated staff—and rightfully
so—they are equally outraged that their systems and resources are not as advanced as they should be
because their state governments are misappropriating 9-1-1 funding.

Beyond the impact on public safety, the diversionary actions of your states make them ineligible for new
federal funding to modernize emergency call centers. Specifically, under the Middle Class Tax Relief and
Job Creation Act of 2012, Congress created a new $115 million grant program to fund 9-1-1, E9-1-1, and
NG911 grants to migrate existing networks to lP-based advanced networks and promote adoption of
NG911 services and applications. In the same law, Congress specifically defined eligibility to exclude
those states and territories — such as yours — that divert 9-1-1 fees. Funding at such a level may seem
minor compared to the amount of your budgetary diversions, but Congress has been asked to furni5h
the grant program with multiple billions of dollars of additional funding, which is under consideration
according to my conversations with the requisite congressional leadership.

The practice of diverting 9-1-1 fees gives your states proverbial black eyes, harms public safety, and
makes your states ineligible for funding to modernize your emergency call centers. This entire situation,
however, is entirely fixable. 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. As such, I am prepared
to publicly testify, including at state budgetary hearings, and/or meet to discuss the issue with
whomever you believe would best be able to address the situation in your state.

I look forward to working with you to end this objectionable practice in your state once and for all.

Sincerely,
Michael O’RielIy
Commissioner F.C.C.




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