Home>Governor>Ignoring $30B From Water Bonds and State Surplus, Gov. Gavin Newsom Wants New Water Tax

Friant-Kern canal, Fresno County.
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Ignoring $30B From Water Bonds and State Surplus, Gov. Gavin Newsom Wants New Water Tax

Taxpayers want to know where the money from eight water bonds has gone?

By Katy Grimes, March 21, 2019 7:59 am

Despite Assembly Constitutional Amendment 3 that would use 2 percent of the annual General Fund to pay for all water improvement projects, and eight water bonds totaling more than $30 billion, Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to charge California water customers up to $10 per month to pay for the clean up of contaminated water in low-income and rural areas. 

However, since year 2000, voters have approved eight water bonds totaling more than $30 billion, according the the Legislative Analyst’s Office. However, very little has been spent on water storage projects that would create new water-supply sources for Californians, which is what the state actually needs in order to realistically deal with inevitable droughts.  New water supply and population growth is the biggest concern of Assemblyman Mathis.

ACA 3 was introduced in January by Assemblyman Devon Mathis (R-Visalia) but has not yet had a hearing. The bill addresses water improvement projects, water infrastructure, environmental quality improvements, groundwater clean-up and recharge, and emergency drinking water programs.

San Luis Reservoir

You may recall that Mathis is the Assemblyman who has tried for several years to get his colleagues in the Legislature to pass legislation to fund clean drinking water for the 10,000 poor constituents in his district reliant on groundwater wells which wells went dry in the drought – to no avail.  

Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed in January a plan to spend $25 million for the “Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund,” by taxing drinking water. A bill proposing a drinking water tax was introduced last year, but was killed during the committee process under threat of a veto by Gov. Jerry Brown. In 2018 Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) authored SB623 to establish a Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund, which also received strong opposition from numerous state agencies and coalitions. SB 623 died in the Assembly Rules Committee.

Sen. Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) also has a bill which would use money from the state’s nearly $30 billion surplus to create a trust fund to pay for water improvements.

Taxpayer advocates and water agencies across the state oppose Newsom’s plan. Some say it is just a blatant attempt to create another tax-revenue funding source on the back of a serious issue – just like the state’s rundown highways and roads and the gas tax.  And others have said this tax could open the door to other new taxes on water for a variety of different programs.

“The Governor is talking about the housing crisis, and building many new homes,” Assemblyman Mathis said in an interview in January. “In order for California to build houses, we must improve water infrastructure. We know we need to capture water, and move it down South, and get it into the ground.”

“But in order to do this, we have to have a guaranteed funding formula,” Mathis added. “Bonds haven’t worked. The money is not there — it’s gone, and on what?”

“We don’t think it makes sense to tax a resource that is essential to living,” said Cindy Tuck of the Association of California Water Agencies. “However, a statewide water tax is highly problematic and is not necessary when alternative funding solutions exist and the state has a huge budget surplus.”

Katy Grimes

Katy Grimes, the Editor of the California Globe, is a long-time Investigative Journalist covering the California State Capitol, and the co-author of California's War Against Donald Trump: Who Wins? Who Loses?
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9 thoughts on “Ignoring $30B From Water Bonds and State Surplus, Gov. Gavin Newsom Wants New Water Tax

  1. This is just a cover up where’s all the last bond money gone??? This is to fund illegals it’s another trick no thank you freak

  2. In all of the articles I read regarding this proposed tax to make “ safer” the drinking water for a specific group of people, I like others, question and would love to hear where the $30B in the bond monies voted in by the general public have been appropriated and why there has been no talk about, or direction given, in addressing the water companies that are responsible for the testing, purifying and overall upkeep of the water they are providing for the families within their water districts. Where is their accountability, where is their responsibility and who is holding them accountable?

  3. Where is the state auditor in all of this??? Funds are being misappropriated and the taxpayers are being screwed over…
    Why isn’t fiscal accountability being demanded of California lawmakers ???
    Oh, yeah, because math is hard and too many California voters are on the government dole or payroll, and as long as “I got mine…”

  4. I have been around since Gov. Edmund G. Brown built the water storage, new highways, infrastructure and approved the promised 2 cents/ kWh nuke electrical generation plants for California citizens. Little did he know his son and his fellow travelers would tear it all down, to be replaced with forced taxpayer funded Teslas, sombreros, medical care, housing and push cart vendors.

  5. Its obvious the insane out number the sane in California, by far. Hey, remember when California use to be a preferred destination, for Americans?

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