[cifnmedia] Illinois Public Safety Funding in Jeopardy

  • From: Sean & Kimberly Aaron <cifn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: CIFN LIST <cifnmedia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 14 Jul 2004 12:57:31 -0700 (PDT)

 INENA Members-this press release is going out this morning. The actual
press release will be available on our website by the end of the day.

  David Tuttle

  July 12, 2004      Phone: 309-494-8035

  Illinois Public Safety Funding in Jeopardy:
  9-1-1 Officials Call for an End of Fund Diversions

  Governor Blagojevich Diverts $1.3 Million of 9-1-1 Funds
  For Illinois General Fund

  Springfield, IL. * In an attempt to balance the State budget Illinois
Governor Rod Blagojveich is putting lives at risk.  On June 30th of this
year, Illinois closed the 2004 fiscal year with a $1,325,480 diversion from
its State wireless E9-1-1 fund.

  Money from this fund is distributed to 9-1-1 systems in the State of
Illinois to operate 9-1-1 and implement life-saving technology to serve the
public in times of an emergency.  Without access to these funds, local 9-1-1
systems may not be able to instantly identify the location of a wireless

  The State of Illinois collects a 75 cent surcharge on all wireless phone
bills.  Stated as an "E9-1-1" line item on consumer phone bills, the
surcharge is used to maintain existing systems and implement new services.
Even though wireless subscribers think the
  "9-1-1 surcharge" on their monthly bill is going to improve their safety,
the money is being siphoned off to pay for something else.

  "The public needs to know that our State leaders are falling short of what
is needed to keep up with new technologies and challenges," said David
Tuttle, President of the Illinois Chapter of the National Emergency Number
Association and Chairperson of the Peoria County (IL) Emergency Telephone
System Board.

  A National Issue: Illinois Problems

  Approximately 93 percent of the nation's emergency call centers (called
PSAPs, or public safety answering points) have "enhanced" 9-1-1 (E9-1-1) for
wireline callers, which means automated systems can identify the caller's
number and physical location, and route the call to a PSAP designated for
that location.  But only about 28 percent of the country's call centers are
capable of determining the precise location of at least some of the wireless
callers dialing 9-1-1.  In the state of Illinois roughly 24% of the State's
Counties are capable of determining location information in the PSAP.

  There are two primary reasons for this situation:  the stress on local
emergency response systems from the enormous growth in wireless telephony,
and the improper siphoning of public funds that have been set aside to
upgrade the 9-1-1 system.

  As wireless phones have proliferated, so have wireless 9-1-1 calls.
Depending on the local area, 25 to 60 percent of all calls to 9-1-1 come
from wireless phones, for a total of nearly 140 million nationwide.  Yet
most local call centers lack the technology needed to pinpoint callers'
location so that help can be sent quickly.

  Compounding the problem nationally, in many states and localities, the
money collected from wireless customers for the purpose of upgrading the
9-1-1 system has been diverted to other purposes or withheld.

  "Obviously, policy makers face tough choices in the current budget
environment," Tuttle  said.  "But with lives and homeland security at stake,
it's just common sense that 9-1-1 funds should be preserved and invested in
9-1-1 systems."

  Illinois NENA is asking all citizens to contact their State legislators
and ask that wireless 9-1-1 funds get spent they way they should, for 9-1-1.

  Federal Legislation:
  Addresses 9-1-1 System, Budgetary and Coordination Problems

  As consumers' surcharges for 9-1-1 are being siphoned away the United
States Congress is taking note.

  This past year, the Co-Chairs of the Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus, Sens.
Conrad Burns (R-MT) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Reps. John Shimkus
(R-IL) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA) introduced legislation to end the raiding of
9-1-1 funds and speed E9-1-1 implementation and improve coordination among
all levels of government.  Under the proposed legislation, Illinois would be
ineligible to receive federal money to improve the 9-1-1 system, because of
the recent diversion by Governor Blagojevich.

  House bill (H.R. 2898), introduced by Representative Shimkus was approved
by the full House in a unanimous voice vote on November 4, 2003.  Companion
legislation in the United States Senate (S. 1250) is pending action on the
Senate floor.

  Nationally NENA is working with the sponsors and other members of the
Congressional E91-1 Caucus to finalize the legislation and send it to
President Bush for his signature.


  A not-for-profit corporation, the National Emergency Number Association
(NENA) is the only organization dedicated solely to the study, advancement,
and implementation of 9-1-1 as America's universal emergency number. For
more information, visit www.nena.org

  The Illinois Chapter of the NENA (INENA) has a membership of over 575
dedicated individuals who work to ensure the reliability and available of
9-1-1 in Illinois.

Sean A. Aaron (CIFN*1)
Central Illinois Fire Network

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