#NoWaterTax Campaign

  • Feb 1, 2018

We Can Solve it Without Increasing Water Bills

There is a new twist on the proposed water tax issue. As part of a last-minute effort before the California Legislative Session ends on Aug. 31, a new proposal would require more than 3,000 community water systems to add for the state a voluntary remittance with an opt-out feature to local water bills. This new item would go on the local water bills of California families and businesses. The bill is SB 845 (Monning).

As with earlier proposals, this effort would raise funds for assisting some rural, low-income communities without access to safe drinking water. ACWA strongly supports helping these communities and ensuring safe drinking water for all Californians, but neither a statewide tax nor this latest twist are reasonable solutions. Funding solutions exist that do not require another tax on Californians.

In June, the legislative budget conference committee rejected the statewide water tax out of the state budget, instead setting aside $23.5 million in General Fund revenue to safe drinking water. Also in June, California voters approved Proposition 68 with $250 million for safe drinking water that is prioritized for disadvantaged communities. In November, California voters will be able to support Proposition 3 with another $500 million allocated for safe drinking water for disadvantaged communities.

SB 845 was introduced with no policy committee review or input from the thousands of local water systems that would be required to implement it, let alone their customers. This new proposal follows SB 623 (Monning) from 2017 a Brown Administration budget trailer bill in early 2018.

Learn more about SB 845 and the previously proposed tax on drinking water and how they could affect you. Learn how you can support a better solution below

Working for a Better Solution

ACWA and a large coalition of businesses, cities, water agencies and associations are advancing an idea that would not increase the cost of water.

The Legislature could more simply add a new voluntary contribution fund check off to the California Form 540 and have it efficiently collected at a much lower cost by one state agency (the Franchise Tax Board) instead of requiring more than 3,000 community water systems to change their billing systems and hire new employees to bill and collect the funds and send them to Sacramento.

Californians Oppose a Drinking Water Tax

73% of Californians dont want a water tax

Tulchin Research  conducted a statewide poll earlier this year based on a previous drinking water tax proposal. That poll showed that 73% of likely voters oppose a new tax on drinking water, both initially and even after hearing more information.

Additionally, 74% would prefer using existing funding sources rather than establishing a new tax on drinking water.

For more on the polling, please read the polling results memo or see our news release.

Why a Voluntary Remittance is Not the Right Solution

Local public water agencies are committed to providing safe and reliable water. They strongly agree that all Californians should have safe drinking water, but oppose mandates for locally implemented voluntary remittance payments with an opt-out feature on water bills for several reasons, including:

  • This new proposal would require thousands of local water agencies and cities to manage the voluntary remittance payment collection with the opt-out feature and forward the funds to Sacramento. While well-intentioned, the administrative costs for thousands of water systems would make water less affordable.
  • Effective funding solutions already exist for achieving this goal. In June, the legislative budget conference committee rejected the statewide water tax out of the state budget, instead setting aside $23.5 million in General Fund revenue to safe drinking water. Also in June, California voters approved Proposition 68 with $250 million for safe drinking water that is prioritized for disadvantaged communities. In November, California voters will be able to support Proposition 3 with another $500 million allocated for safe drinking water for disadvantaged communities.

Why a Tax is Not the Right Solution

Local public water agencies are committed to providing safe and reliable water. They strongly agree that all Californians should have safe drinking water, but oppose a statewide tax for several reasons, including:

  • The state should not tax something that is essential to life, such as water and food.
  • The cost of living in California is already too high.
  • A tax on drinking water would work against the goal of keeping water affordable for Californians.
  • Effective funding solutions already exist for achieving this goal that do not require a tax. In June, the legislative budget conference committee rejected the statewide water tax out of the state budget, instead setting aside $23.5 million in General Fund revenue to safe drinking water. Also in June, California voters approved Proposition 68 with $250 million for safe drinking water that is prioritized for disadvantaged communities. In November, California voters will be able to support Proposition 3 with another $500 million allocated for safe drinking water for disadvantaged communities.

Tools & Resources

Opinions Around the State

Read the latest opinion columns from around the state on why neither a tax on drinking water nor locally implemented voluntary remittance payments with an opt-out feature on water bills are the right solution to this key public health and social issue.

Join Us

More than 200 business groups, cities, water agencies and associations have joined ACWA in opposing SB 845 and any statewide water tax. To join ACWA’s coalition, please contact ACWA State Relations Analyst Melissa Sparks at (916) 441-4545.

Here are the coalition’s most recent letters:

Questions

Media inquiries and member questions about member tools and resources should be directed to ACWA Director of Communications Heather Engel at (916) 441-4545.

For questions about ACWA’s opposition to SB 845 or a statewide water tax, please contact ACWA Deputy Executive Director for Government Relations Cindy Tuck at (916) 441-4545.