Survey Shows Strong Statewide Opposition to Proposed Tax on Drinking Water

  • by Heather Engel
  • Mar 13, 2018
  • News Releases

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A recent survey commissioned by the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) shows that Californians overwhelmingly oppose creating a new tax on drinking water to fund solutions for those disadvantaged communities that do not have access to safe drinking water and instead support using an alternative funding approach that includes existing funding sources.

The vast majority of the state’s residents have access to this basic necessity, but a small percentage of the population does not.  This unacceptable reality is a social issue for the State of California.  ACWA believes that making access to safe drinking water for all Californians should be a top priority for the State.

The Brown Administration is proposing a budget trailer bill that is intended to fund gaps in drinking water funding for disadvantaged communities that do not have access to safe drinking water.  ACWA agrees with that intent, but has an oppose-unless-amended position on the bill because it proposes a tax on drinking water. The budget trailer bill is based on SB 623, a two-year bill from 2017 and is currently before Senate and Assembly budget subcommittees.

Released this week, the survey shows, based on interviews with 1,000 likely voters throughout the state, that 73 percent of Californians somewhat or strongly oppose the idea of imposing a drinking water tax on residents and businesses.

ACWA and more than 135 public water agencies are advancing a more appropriate alternative – a package of existing and proposed funding sources that do not include a tax on drinking water. This package includes ongoing federal safe drinking water funds, state general obligation bonds and a minor augmentation from the state general fund ($34.4 million per year, which is less than 1/10th of 1 percent of the 2018-’19 proposed general fund), in addition to agricultural assessments proposed in the bill.

The survey found that 74 percent of Californians support using such funds instead of the proposed drinking water tax. The survey also revealed a significant display of bipartisanship, with Democrats and Republicans opposing the tax by nearly identical margins (69 percent opposition among Democrats surveyed, 73 percent opposition among Republicans). This also held true for Northern and Southern Californians opposing the tax (73 percent and 72 percent respectively), as well as for voters in different ethnic groups (white, black, Latino and Asian).

“ACWA is advocating for a funding package comprised of a variety of sources, both existing and proposed, including a relatively small amount of general fund money to resolve this issue without a tax on drinking water,” said ACWA Executive Director Timothy Quinn. “If state leaders are willing to make this societal problem a priority, general fund dollars can be part of the solution.”

The survey was conducted by Tulchin Research between Jan. 25-28, 2018.

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Contact: Heather Engel, Director of Communications, (916) 441-4545 or (760) 217-0627 (cell)

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