Governor Vetoes SB 222, Water Rate Assistance Program Legislation
Bill Would Have Created a Statewide Water Rate Assistance Program Under Which Local Water Suppliers Would Have Provided Assistance to Eligible Customers
SB 222, authored by Sen. Bill Dodd, was vetoed by California’s governor on Sept. 28. The bill would have established a statewide Water Rate Assistance Program to provide water affordability assistance to eligible residential water customers. The bill would have required the State Water Resources Control Board to create program guidelines and administer the program. Further, subject to funding by the Legislature, the bill would have required local water and wastewater systems to provide rate assistance to eligible residential water customers.
In Gov. Newsom’s veto message, he pointed to the lack of any funding to support the program. Because SB 222 would have created ongoing requirements for community water systems and wastewater systems, it would strain the existing general fund by billions of dollars every year. The governor further acknowledged efforts that are already in place to assist low-income ratepayers, including $1 billion in the 2021-22 Budget for the State Water Board for the California Water and Wastewater Arrearage Payment Program, as well as an additional $200 million in the 2022-23 budget for the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program at the Department of Community Services and Development.
The governor’s veto letter can be found here.
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