Proposed Legislation Aims to Improve California’s Outdated 911 System

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SACRAMENTO -- It’s a simple question: Do you check your phone bill each month?

Many people told FOX40 that’s just not something they typically check.

However, did you know you are taxed for making phone calls?

“No, I should look more into my bill,” said Jasmine Hamilton.

On a phone bill, under government taxes and fees, is the state’s 911 tax.

However, a legislative bill supported by the Office of Emergency Services wants that tax to change to a flat tax of up to 80 cents a month to upgrade 911 dispatch centers from analog to digital. The move is meant to better assist Californians in emergencies.

“Everybody has the fear that if they call 911 it’s going to take some time to get a response,” said West Sacramento resident Virginia Renfro. “So, if that helps benefit them in some way, I’m for it.”

The flat tax is intended to make up for the fact that people are texting and just don’t make phone calls nearly as much as they once did. That means money from the calling tax continues to get smaller.

“Absolutely that needs to be fixed as California confronts the wildfires. This is a problem in search of a remedy,” said Jon Coupal, the president of the Howard Jarvis Tax Association.

Coupal believes 911 upgrades are needed. However, he doesn’t feel those who make calls should pay for it, especially, he says, with the state having a budget surplus.

“California is sitting on a minimum of a $22 billion surplus and public safety is our number one priority,” he told FOX40. “Why can we not fund this through the general fund because we have the money?”

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