The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

911 Funds Should Support 911 Functions

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


The 911 system is a valuable emergency communications tool available nationwide, and supported, in part, through fees typically designated as either 911 funds or enhanced 911 (E-911) fees.  Those fees are deposited into funds that are supposed to be set aside for improvements to the 911 emergency calling systems for both wireline and wireless devices within each state. On December 21, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued its Fourth Annual Report on State Collection and Distribution of 911 and Enhanced 911 Fees and Charges.  This report identified seven states and territories that used some portion of collected 911 fees and charges for non-911 related purposes in 2011.  This is the same number of states using the funds for non-911 related purposes as was reported by Citizens Against Government Waste last year, continuing the trend for misuse of collected funds. Among the states using the funds for other purposes, Arizona, Illinois, Maine, Rhode Island and New York reported transferring the collected 911 fees and charges into their General Fund.  Guam used its collected 911 fees for other public safety-related purposes, and Georgia reported that it did not use the funds collected from pre-paid phones for 911 uses.  New Jersey and West Virginia used the 911 fees for other public safety-related purposes consistent with their state funding statutes.  Arizona, Illinois and Rhode Island were listed in previous reports as diverting 911 fees to their General Funds. The fees that are collected from taxpayers for specific purposes such as enhancing and modernizing the emergency 911 support system should be used for those functions, and should not be diverted by state governments facing budget shortfalls in their general fund.  It is time the states stopped their raids on these funds and used them for their intended purpose.

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