Coalition Touts Safe Drinking Water Trust at Senate Budget Subcommittee Hearing

  • by Matt Veeh
  • Mar 21, 2019
  • Water News

ACWA and coalition members testify against water tax
and in support of Trust
legislation at subcommittee hearing

ACWA and a group of coalition members testified today at the Senate Budget Subcommittee No. 2 hearing to oppose the proposed statewide water tax and to support a better alternative in ACWA-sponsored SB 669, The Safe Drinking Water Trust. It was the second day in a row that ACWA and other water agencies spoke before subcommittee members in support of the Trust proposal and in opposition to the tax.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed a statewide water tax that is based on the SB 623 (Monning) framework and appears in budget trailer bill language. The Legislature’s Budget Conference Committee rejected very similar language proposed by the Brown Administration in the State Budget process in 2018.

“The good news is there is a better approach. Senator Caballero is carrying SB 669 that is headed to the Senate Environmental Quality Committee and would create the Safe Drinking Water Trust and that proposal could replace the proposed water tax.,” ACWA Deputy Executive Director for Government Relations Cindy Tuck testified at the hearing.

Tuck and other tax opponents reiterated several reasons for their opposition, including:

  • It’s bad policy to tax an essential resource.
  • A tax would be costly for water systems to implement and manage, and would work against keeping drinking water affordable.
  • It would set a bad precedent for imposing additional taxes on water in California.

ACWA and the California Municipal Utilities Association (CMUA) are sponsoring a better alternative in SB 669 (Caballero), which would help community water systems in disadvantaged communities provide access to safe drinking water. The Trust would be funded with an infusion of General Fund dollars during a budget surplus year. The state would invest the principal, and the net income would provide the needed ongoing revenue stream for drinking water solutions in disadvantaged communities

Last week, an ACWA-led coalition of more than 200 organizations submitted a letter to the subcommittees to oppose the budget trailer bill language unless the water tax language is deleted.

SB 669 is set to be heard by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on April 10.

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