Christie’s “creative accounting” for 911 service

“In 2015, the last year that data was available, only $75,000 of the $122 million collected went toward upgrading the system. No state in the country has collected more from its taxpayers to fund critical upgrades to the 911 system, and, according to the federal government, no state uses less of that money to actually fund improvements to their system.”

911-450.jpgThis is according to a report from the Star Ledger.

And yet the lame-duck GOP governor’s proposed budget includes a tax on all pre-paid phones in the state to add an additional $13 million to upgrade New Jersey’s’ 911 system.

Judged by past performance, it would be unlikely for that money to actually be used to upgrade 911-call-center technology, which badly needs it.

Since 2004 the state has collected more than $1.4 billion, collected from every owner of a phone line in New Jersey, that was supposed to fund NextGen911, a technology upgrade that the FCC says would save thousand of lives per year. But a NJ Advance Media investigation found that only about $211 million, around 15 percent, has actually been used for that purpose, and the bulk of that was before 2009. In 2014, for example, the state collected $121million for 911 services from taxpayers, but less than $10,000 was actually used for that purpose.

Instead, funds have consistently been diverted to other areas to cover budget shortfalls and balance the budget while the Christie administration continues to give tax breaks to corporations and reduce or eliminate taxes, such as the estate tax, on the wealthiest residents.

This newest scheme to have low- and middle-income residents fund tax cuts for the rich targets users of pre-paid cell phones, which are heavily used by the elderly and lower income people who can’t count on income throughout a contract period and/or have poor or no credit, and who can’t afford computers.