A proposal being developed in the Massachusetts Legislature to add a $2-a-year fee
on every Bay State telephone line to pay for emergency 911 calls has drawn the wrath of a
key tax-cut advocate who carries influence with Governor Paul Cellucci.
Barbara Anderson of Citizens for Limited Taxation and
Government yesterday slammed the still-evolving proposal as "a telephone
tax" and said she will urge Cellucci and legislators to oppose it.
"It is one of the most outrageous things I have ever heard of, and I have
heard plenty of outrageous things," Anderson said.
"The whole point of having a police department is so you can call them up.
This would be a fee on the one thing we're getting from the government for the taxes we're
As soon as next week, the Legislature's Government Regulations Committee is
expected to take up a bill that would close a $25 million deficit in the fund that pays
for the statewide enhanced 911 system, which shows emergency dispatchers the address from
which a call is being made.
The fund is currently supported largely by the 34-cents-a-call charge on Bell
Atlantic customers who make more than 10 calls to 411 directory assistance monthly.
Both committee chairmen -- Senator Michael W. Morrissey, a North Quincy Democrat,
and Representative Daniel E. Bosley, a North Adams Democrat -- said as a matter of equity
they like the idea of detaching 911 funding from 411 and having everyone with a phone pay
for the system through a yearly $2-a-line fee.
Cellucci's chief spokeswoman, Ilene Hoffer, said administration officials
"want to look carefully at anything that would pass on costs to a broad base of
But she said the governor had no comment on the $2 fee, saying, "We will wait
until a piece of legislation arrives on our desk."
The emergency 911 bill being drafted by Bosley and Morrissey will likely also
allow Bell Atlantic to begin offering nationwide directory assistance to Massachusetts
callers who dial 411. Massachusetts is the only state served by Bell Atlantic that does
not have the service.