State Senate Leader Toni Atkins

Sen. Atkins to Share Legislative Vision with Water Authority Board

Editors Note: Due to the volume of activity associated with this week’s organizational activities related to the beginning of the 2021-2022 state legislative session, Senator Atkins regretfully had to cancel her appearance during this Thursday’s special Board of Directors meeting, and she expressed her apologies for the unavoidable circumstances and workload that resulted in the cancellation. Fortunately, the Water Authority is honored that state Senator Brian Jones will join the special Board meeting at 2 p.m. Thursday and offer his perspectives on 2020 and his insights on policy and fiscal issues facing California and San Diego County as we advance toward 2021.

California Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins will share her legislative vision and 2021 policy outlook at a special San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors meeting on Thursday, December 10. The webcast of the meeting can be viewed at 2 p.m. here.

“I’m hopeful that we’ll hear from Senator Atkins about energy and infrastructure funding and partnership opportunities,” said Sandra L. Kerl, General Manager of the Water Authority. “This has long been one of the top legislative priorities for water and wastewater agencies – and the pandemic has highlighted the need for continued investments in these projects that produce jobs as well as generational benefits.”

Atkins has represented the region since 2000, serving on the San Diego City Council for eight years and in the state Assembly for six years. She was elected to the state Senate in 2016, where she represents the 39th district. The district includes most of the city of San Diego, and Coronado, Del Mar, and Solana Beach. She was elected Senate President pro Tem by her senate colleagues in March 2018.

A champion for California water policy

Throughout her years of public service in state and local government, Atkins has championed sound water policy. She is currently in the middle of coronavirus pandemic-related public safety and economic recovery issues. Atkins received the 2019 Safe Drinking Water Champion Award in January 2020 from the California Municipal Utilities Association in Sacramento.

As leader of the Senate, Atkins was instrumental in bringing California together to find consensus that resulted in passage of the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund of 2019. The long-term funding solution avoided a proposed water tax, ensures safe drinking water for an estimated one-million Californians, and will fix failing water systems in vulnerable communities.

Legislative partnerships are essential for a prosperous future

The San Diego County Water Authority is pursuing partnerships with state and national agencies to advance shovel-ready water and energy infrastructure projects that can help California’s economic recovery gain traction.

Over the years, the Water Authority has hosted numerous legislative roundtable events to promote collaboration with civic, business, and elected leaders to ensure continued water supply reliability for the region.

Past speakers have included Congressmen Scott Peters and Mike Levin, State Assemblymembers Lorena Gonzalez and Marie Waldron, and State Senators Ben Hueso and Brian Jones. Atkins participated in the Water Authority’s Legislative Roundtable in October 2015.

Atkins Receives Safe Drinking Water Champion Award

California State Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins of San Diego on Monday received the 2019 Safe Drinking Water Champion Award from the California Municipal Utilities Association in Sacramento.

“The award recognizes Senator Atkins’ leadership to work collaboratively with her colleagues in the Senate, Assembly and Governor’s office in securing funding for communities that do not have access to safe drinking water,” said Danielle Blacet-Hyden, CMUA director for water, as she presented Senator Atkins with the award.

Gov. Gavin Newsom Abandons Water Tax, Rejects Some New Spending In California Budget Deal

Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic legislative leaders announced Sunday the broad outlines of a new state budget, one that provides a boost for California’s low-income adults and children but excludes a controversial tax to pay for clean water in distressed communities. The details of key parts of the agreement were unveiled during a late afternoon hearing in which legislators from both houses met to approve the proposal. Though it does not signal the end of the budget process — legislators cited numerous places where the plan includes placeholder language, thus leaving the details to be determined later — the action brought to an end principal budget negotiations at the state Capitol, the first for Newsom since taking office this year.

OPINION: A New Water Tax? California Has A $21 Billion Surplus, Use That Instead

California has a record $21.5 billion surplus. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we have all that money because you are being overtaxed. Earlier this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom released his revised budget proposal, the largest in California history. At a staggering $214 billion dollars, the budget is larger than that of most nations and every other state. The budget also includes a new $140 million tax on water customers to help all Californians have access to clean water.

What’s All This About A Water Tax?

Gov. Gavin Newsom has made repairing hundreds of failing drinking-water systems in California a big priority since taking office, giving fresh momentum to an entrenched problem the state’s leaders have long struggled to resolve. But his proposed solution — a $140 million yearly tax raised in part through fees on urban water districts — has raised eyebrows in a state where residents already feel overtaxed. Toxic drinking water in California is a much larger problem than many people realize: From the coasts to the Central Valley, from Southern California to the northern reaches of the state, hundreds of public water systems regulated by the state do not meet safe drinking standards.

OPINION: Gov. Newsom: Don’t Tax Life Essentials. But Tax Water. Huh?

In seeking a five-year suspension of sales taxes on diapers and menstrual products, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that it was wrong for the government to increase the cost of essentials of life and that doing so hurt families. Newsom was praised by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, who has touted legislation to end sales taxes on infant and toddler diapers

A California Tax To Clean Up Toxic Drinking Water Has Lawmakers Jumpy

The ghost of Josh Newman haunts the state Capitol, sending shivers through certain politicians’ spines at the mere mention of the scary word “tax.” The former lawmaker’s fate will make it difficult for the Legislature — even with supermajority Democratic control — to pass one of Gavin Newsom’s top priorities: a so-called water tax. The governor says the tiny tax is needed to raise enough money to clean up toxic drinking water throughout California, particularly in low-income farmworker communities of the San Joaquin Valley.

OPINION: Why Taxing Water Is Wrong

This year presents an ideal opportunity to solve a critical public health issue that our state must address, and one we cannot afford to miss. While most California residents have access to safe drinking water, there are some people living in disadvantaged communities do not. This is primarily because the water systems within these communities are unable to adequately fund the operation and maintenance of treatment facilities capable of providing water in compliance with state and federal standards. Everyone agrees with the urgent need to provide families in these communities access to safe drinking water and is supportive of Gov. Gavin Newsom making it a top priority for the state.

California Governor’s Plan To Create New Drinking Water Tax Faces Resistance

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, wants to create a tax on water customers to fund a safe drinking water program in disadvantaged communities. But a rival proposal by a lawmaker from his own party seeks to tap into the state’s record budget surplus instead. One million Californians live without clean water for drinking or bathing, according to Newsom. He recently called attention to hundreds of water systems in the state that are out of compliance with primary drinking water quality standards because of contamination by lead, arsenic or uranium.

OPINION: Why California Needs Water Tax

California is the only state in the nation that has codified the human right to water. Along with the innovation that streams out of the Silicon Valley, the food that feeds the world that grows in the Central Valley, the creativity that flows from Los Angeles and the beauty that pours out of San Diego, Californians should be proud that we recognize the human right to water. Our pride, though, is diminished by the more than 1 million Californians who do not have access to safe, affordable drinking water in their homes and in their schools.