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Doug Haaland

Liberal Virtue Signaling is Costly!

Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience.

Adam Smith

August is such a wonderful time of the legislative calendar! It’s that magical month when bills about “legislative intent” become the vehicles of California’s often craziest headlines in national news! Liberal Democrats are using the closing weeks of this legislative session to push through several of their virtuous ideas.

With the process of “gut & amend,” liberals escape the drudgery of policy committee hearings and avoid public opposition to their vastly superior principles intended to make life better and often government coffers richer, in their fantasy world.

An example of virtue signaling type of “caring” is the odyssey of Senate Bill 845 (SB 845). Introduced in January as a “budget” vehicle, in June it was amended to become the 2018 “Human Services Omnibus” budget bill in the Assembly. On the same day, the Senate amended AB 1811 to become the 2018 “Human Services Omnibus” budget bill as well.

With AB 1811 becoming part of the 2018 budget, Senator Monning realized he had the perfect vehicle in SB 845 to turn it into the deeply caring “Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund” bill. Of course, one of my first questions was why does California need another “fund” for “safe” water? More on that a little bit later.

For the moment, let’s ignore what this virtue signaling bill creates in new dictates forced on a “community water system” once Sacramento bureaucrats decide what “priorities and guidelines” to push in their mandated “policy handbook.”

What thrilled the author was that he found a way to sneak a new tax on Californians without having to fuss with committee hearings, public opinion, and a pesky analysis of the fiscal impact on consumers when your “community water system” is collecting “voluntary remittances.”

You read that right! Your water provider would bill you for a “voluntary remittance.” It also says should you decide to deduct your “voluntary remittance” from the bill, the water company can’t penalize you for your greed! At least, not yet!

My point? Does anyone believe after a year or two of customers telling their water company to “pound sand,” while spending customer money to meet the bill’s requirements, the “Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund” voluntary “remittance” won’t be changing to turn your “voluntary remittance” into a “mandatory payment?”

There are two points you should consider as you ponder if you’ll begin paying this new “water tax” should it become law.

First, in 2011 the concept of water being classified as a “human right” was put in legislation and Governor Jerry Brown signed the measure. AB 685 was supported by social justice and environmental organizations, while being opposed by statewide business, water and agricultural entities.

I was fortunate enough to be serving the people of California as a chief consultant for the Assembly Republican Office of Policy and at the time, I also urged Caucus members to oppose this high-minded measure.

One of the primary reasons for my position was the belief that the language, while altruistic and egalitarian (25 cent words meaning liberals are extremely virtuous), there was little doubt in my mind that once it became “law,” liberals would justify imposing new taxes to meet policy goals.

If you look up the language of SB 845, you’ll find the first statement of the “legislative intent” is intended to present the primary concerns being addressed by the author. Up front is the reference to the language of AB 685 of 2011, now known as Water Code Section 106.3.

As previously mentioned, thinking about why a new “fund” needed to be created, led to the second thing that came to mind while basking in a self-congratulatory glow. As I read this new measure, I asked myself how much money have voters of California given bureaucrats for these issues?

The answer was quite amazing. Since 2000, there have been five “water” bonds approved by the voters of this state and a sixth one is on the upcoming November 2018 ballot. As I suspected, liberals ensured that prior bond measures contained “funding” for the very problems SB 845 says California lacks the money to address.

Surprisingly, as liberals consider the new “voluntary remittance” (read tax), state voters enacted more than $5.4 BILLION for “Safe and Affordable” water for Californians. This means in the preceding 18 years, divided equally, liberals had more than $304 MILLION available each year for bureaucrats to spend on “Safe and Affordable” water problems.

With the attention paid to making straws illegal, eliminating the bail system and replacing it with a system costing local governments millions, Sanctuary State bills and allowing meth addicts to safely “shoot up” in San Francisco, remember, liberal virtue signaling is not only confusing, it will require a lot more hard-earned money out of your family budget.

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