War on low-income single mothers

As advocates, we all understand that social outcomes are issues of social justice. Those who lack the basic resources of human development will have challenges that others do not. This reality is particularly true with single mothers in frontline communities. Every day, they face barriers in just keeping up – buying groceries, sustaining monthly rent, accessing transportation, finding safe and affordable daycare, and paying their monthly utility bills.

So, with that in mind, here’s what a recent opinion/editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle said about the proposed utility tax now being considered by CPUC commissioners.

“A single parent with an annual income of $40,000 living in an apartment in the Bay Area would see their bill go up by around $20 per month.”

To us, that’s a war on low-income single mothers. It is also an unacceptable public policy in a progressive state like California.

We’ve all heard the saying that one gives in response when someone asks you to do something ludicrous, “That sounds good in theory. But in the real world…”

It’s the perfect saying for what the utilities and their allies are trying to pull on California’s working families. Think of how these people operate behind closed doors; “We’ll call this an Income-Graduated-Rate, and they’ll all think it’s a progressive tax.” Well, in the real world, this utility tax is anything but progressive. We felt so strongly about getting the word out that we sponsored a seminar where economists and advocates could speak truth to power. You can view our discussion here.

Many people with divergent views could argue the merits and the foibles of the fixed charge tax structure. That would be fair. However, some in positions of power are doing everything they can to stop a transparent and ethical process. Here’s more from the Chronicle Op-ed:

“There were no public hearings, no debates, and the fixed charge was introduced just 96 hours before it was voted on and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom.”

The only actual, just and transparent solution to the utility tax mess is to have a genuine public dialogue about this policy. We are asking everyone to join our growing coalition of environmental justice and climate activists, renter’s rights groups, immigrant rights organizations, and Black Church advocates asking to Repeal the Utility Tax.

Let’s start over, and this time, let the people’s voices be heard.