California lawmakers consider new tax to help pay for state’s 911 system upgrades

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Upgrading California’s 911 system could mean a new tax on Californians.

State lawmakers are poised to make the decision on how to pay for the upgrade this week. They will decide whether to impose a flat fee of up to 80 cents a month on California phone bills.

Some Republicans think the upgrades should be paid out of the general fund, with the state’s budget surplus at $21.5 billion, the largest in 20 years.

Democrats have said they don’t want to use a budget surplus to pay for ongoing expenses.

California’s 911 system is based off technology from the 1970s. With funds from the tax, state officials want the upgrade to include text message, video, and photo capabilities.

The 911 fee is one of several bills accompanying the recently approved state budget. Governor Gavin Newsom has a little more than a week to sign or veto the state spending plan.

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