House Budget: Despite Battle Over 911 Fees, Lancia Amendment for Restricted Account Falls

Friday, June 15, 2018


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Rep. Bob Lancia

Rhode Island State Representative Robert Lancia's amendment to the House Fiscal Year 2018 budget to prohibit the proposed name change of the 911 surcharge -- and to require that 911 fees collected go to a restricted account, rather than the general fund, fell on Friday night, with only 13 members voting in favor (see below). 

"This has to do with 911 system and the funding of it. I appreciate that there was some funding increased — and that it was renamed," said Lancia, who added that 69% on average 911 funds have been diverted — stating it's the second worse diversion in the country behind New Jersey.

"Rhode Island is the only state in New England that 911 doesn’t coach CPR," said Lancia. "The extra money allocated is not allocated for this training. 

The budget that was approved by the House Finance Committee was $1 million. 

"We collect from ratepayers 911 fees — but we haven’t been using it to support the system. In many other states there are statewide systems, and text capable, allowing first responders to get a victim faster," said House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan. "These systems protect policemen — who are told en route who they’re meeting there, if there are prior incidents or convictions, if they might have a gun — so they know what they’re responding to."

Those opposed said the recent funding increases have been sufficient.

"911 was intended for children, people from out of state," said Rep. Robert Jacquard. "I know the phone numbers [of local police and fire] in my community, that’s what I’m using."

Majority Leader Joe Shekarchi took a swipe at Morgan on the floor over the issue of the pay of employees in the 911 system -- which he said is not the purview of the assembly.

"Leader Morgan, maybe next year, you can negotiate the salaries," quipped Shekarchi.

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