Statewide water tax bumped from 2018-19 budget
A budget trailer bill that has been opposed by Tahoe-Truckee’s water agencies and the Association of California Water Agencies was scrapped as Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders came to an agreement on the 2018-19 state budget.
The budget trailer bill, according to the Association of California Water Agencies, was essentially a modified form of State Bill 623, dubbed the “Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund,” which would tax Californian’s drinking water.
State Bill 623 is still alive, and is currently in the Assembly Rules Committee, according to Heather Engel of the Association of California Water Agencies.
A Lake Tahoe regional coalition of local water agencies including Tahoe City Public Utility District, South Tahoe Public Utility District, North Tahoe Public Utility District, Truckee Donner Public Utility District, Northstar Community Services District, Squaw Valley Public Service District and Alpine Springs County Water District strongly oppose the proposed bill.
“We oppose unless amended,” said Kim Boyd, senior management analyst for the Tahoe Public Utility District in an April interview with the Sun. “Our issue is more on the tax as a funding mechanism … that money is not going to stay in Tahoe.
“Your local, public water agencies are committed to providing safe and reliable water and support the intent of the bill. We understand the severity of the problem and the need for solutions. However, taxing Californians’ water is not the solution … it puts us in a tax collecting situation and opens the door for future hikes on the tax.”
On June 8, the Conference Committee did approve a package that set aside $23.5 million in General Fund revenue for safe drinking water actions, and also another $5 million in General Fund revenue for the State Water Resources Control Board to provide lead testing remediation and technical assistance for child care centers.
California voters also recently passed Proposition 68, which authorizes the state to sell $4.1 billion in general obligation bonds for various natural resources-related programs, including water projects.
“Passage of this water bond will have positive impacts on Californians throughout the state,” said Association of California Water Agencies Executive Director Timothy Quinn. “Securing California’s water future has become increasingly challenging and bonds help ensure that we have adequate funding to invest in answering critical needs, such as safe water, sustainable groundwater and drought preparedness. Answering these challenges is more important now than ever before.”
Proposition 68 will provide $1.6 billion for water-related projects, according to the association, which are intended to provide safe drinking water to disadvantaged communities, improve water supply reliability, help implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, and resort California’s watersheds.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at email@example.com.