Joint Budget Committee. The statewide digital trunked radio system (DTRS) provides interoperable radio communications that allow personnel from multiple agencies in different levels of government to rapidly share information and coordinate efforts in emergency situations. While DTRS is considered one of the nation's most successful statewide public safety communications voice networks, there are areas of the state that do not have adequate coverage on the DTRS network. This means public safety officials are unable to communicate with others when working in geographies with little to no coverage.
The general assembly established the public safety communications trust fund (trust fund) for the acquisition and maintenance of public safety communications systems, including the DTRS. Currently, through the 2024-25 fiscal year, the general assembly appropriates $7.2 million each fiscal year from the general fund and other funds to the trust fund for purposes of the DTRS. The governor's office of information technology (office) is required to use the money for the replacement of legacy radio equipment and hardware at radio tower sites and for software upgrade assurance. Due to a one-time savings achieved through negotiations between the office and its DTRS software vendor, approximately $3 million of the money appropriated to the trust fund to date is unexpended.
The bill authorizes the office to use any unencumbered and unexpended money appropriated for purposes of the DTRS on DTRS site supporting infrastructure and DTRS supporting software and hardware.
In addition, in both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 fiscal years, the bill requires the general assembly to appropriate an additional $2 million from the general fund to the trust fund. The bill requires the office to use the money to work in partnership with local and regional government entities to add additional radio tower sites in areas of the state that are experiencing critical coverage gaps for public safety radio communications. The office is required to submit a report to the joint budget committee detailing the use of the additional $2 million.
(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)