Viewpoint: New water tax wrong way to fund clean water for all

While we all agree on the good intentions of SB 623 to assist disadvantaged communities with accessing safe drinking water, we can’t agree on imposing the first-ever statewide tax on water bills of California homes and businesses.
However, taxing Californians’ drinking water is not the right approach for addressing this issue.
Adding a statewide tax to local water bills is just not sound policy.
Furthermore, the process through which this tax has been proposed is also problematic.
Proponents say they have been negotiating for months, but the tax was amended to this bill just a week ago.
Not only did this preclude the public and stakeholder groups from examining the tax and weighing in, but it also prevented proper vetting before all applicable committees.
To impose a statewide tax on Californians’ water bills would turn local water agencies into taxation entities that send money to Sacramento.
Also concerning is the fact that this tax would be precedent setting.
ACWA supports funding safe drinking water solutions for disadvantaged communities with General Fund dollars, packaged together with ongoing federal safe drinking water funds, general obligation bond funds, and the new agriculture-proposed assessment related to nitrates in groundwater.
The best way our state can help our most vulnerable communities access safe drinking water is by raising this issue to the same priority level as other critical public health and social issues, and that means making a general fund solution a reality.

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