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Government

Rauner vetoes 911 legislation with surcharge increase

Governor eliminates sunset clause to ensure 911 service continues

Gov. Bruce Rauner on June 30 issued an amendatory veto of Senate Bill 1839 to continue 911 services without a surcharge increase.

“The majority in the General Assembly waited until the last moment to send this 911 service reauthorization bill to my desk," Rauner said in a statement. "Unfortunately, those lawmakers also inserted a major tax hike into this bill, a tax that’s both excessive and unwarranted, and that I strongly oppose. This extreme increase is unfair and indefensible. But the majority in the General Assembly is using the threat of cancellation of 911 services on [July 1] as leverage to force this tax hike through over my opposition.”

In a news conference June 23 at the College of DuPage's Robert J. Miller Homeland Security Education Center, public safety officials had called for Rauner to sign legislation that would increase phone fees across the state in order to modernize the 911 emergency service system.

"The state is in the process of modernizing a 30-year-old 911 network to create a more efficient and reliable system to ensure public safety response for all of Illinois," Association of Public Safety Professionals Illinois Chapter President Brent Reynolds said during the conference.

In the amendatory veto, Rauner removed all the surcharge increases and also revoked the sunsets on the Emergency Telephone System Act and the sections regarding telecommunications and cable and video in the Public Utilities Act, meaning 911 service will continue in Illinois without the General Assembly having to pass legislation to renew the service.

The 911 surcharge would have increased from 87 cents to $1.50 per month per device, or an annual increase of $7.56 per phone. In Chicago, the 911 surcharge would have increased from $3.90 to $5.

Reynolds had said the increase is needed to assist 911 dispatch centers in replacing obsolete equipment and upgrading to the technology needed to meet the mandated Next Generation 911 standards that include texting to 911.

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