California Governor Gavin Newsom proposed his first budget for the state on Friday, and it includes a tax on drinking water.
The budget, titled “California for All,” declares drinking water a “fundamental right,” and adds: “The Budget includes short-term measures to bring immediate relief to communities without safe drinking water and also proposes an ongoing sustainable funding source to address this problem into the future.”
That source is a new fund, the “Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund”:
Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund—Establish a new special fund, with a dedicated funding source from new water, fertilizer, and dairy fees, to enable the State Water Resources Control Board to assist communities, particularly disadvantaged communities, in paying for the short-term and long-term costs of obtaining access to safe and affordable drinking water. This proposal is consistent with the policy framework of SB 623, introduced in the 2017-18 legislative session. The Budget also includes $4.9 million General Fund on a one-time basis for the State Water Resources Control Board and the Department of Food and Agriculture to take initial steps toward implementation of this new Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Program, including (1) implementation of fee collection systems, (2) adoption of an annual implementation plan, and (3) development of a map of high-risk aquifers used as drinking water sources.
The San Francisco Chronicle notes: “The details of the proposed tax are unknown, but a similar proposal was abandoned by then-Governor Jerry Brown last year after failing to garner enough support in the legislature.”
Critics have already slammed the plan, with former Republican gubernatorial candidate Travis Allen urging fellow Republicans to “take back” the state, and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association and the Association of California Water Agencies saying the state should tap into its budget surplus to pay for the needed clear water supplies.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News.