Rep. Lancia bill would increase public safety, promote better state fiscal management
STATE HOUSE - On the heels of media reports citing more than 16,000 911 calls were placed on hold, Rep. Robert B. Lancia (R-District 16, Cranston) will introduce legislation to fix the problem and increase safety in Rhode Island. “I don’t think anyone facing an emergency should ever wait to get help.” said Rep Lancia. “This is a problem that needs to be fixed, immediately.”
The 911 respond center claimed budget cuts and staffing shortages were to blame for poor service and placing Rhode Islanders on hold. Even though call volumes are up fivefold from the 1980s, the number of operators working in the call center has decreased by 50 percent. “There seem to be budgetary problems within our emergency call system; however, it is not for lack of generated fees.” explained Lancia.
Rhode Islanders pay a monthly fee on every cell phone and landline in the state. This money is used to maintain the emergency call system. Last year, the fee totaled about $17 million in state revenue. The budget to operate the emergency system totaled only $5.4 million.
“We have a major problem here. Rhode Island collects three times the amount it spends on the emergency calling system, yet we have staffing and budgeting problems, where Rhode Islanders are placed on hold during emergency calls. I would hate to think emergencies services were delayed because a caller was placed on hold. This is just plain wrong.” continued Lancia.
“My bill creates a restricted receipt account solely dedicated to pay for the emergency call system. The revenue would be prohibited from any other state use.”
“We must adequately fund our emergency calling system in Rhode Island and we should fund it with the money collected for that purpose,” concluded Lancia.
For more information, contact:
Louise Tetreault, House Minority Office
State House Room 106
Providence, RI 02903