California regulators announced this week that they are working on a plan to tax its residents for sending text messages. The San Jose Mercury News reported Tuesday that the state anticipates using the money generated from this tax to support programs that would make phones more accessible to poor residents. The tax would be a flat, monthly fee.
The California Public Utilities Commission has scheduled a vote on the proposal for Jan. 10. Business groups and wireless providers have expressed their utter discontent and disapproval with the proposal.
Some groups in the Silicon Valley pointed out that under the proposal, this tax could apply retroactively for the last five years, something they describe to be a “dangerous precedent.” This would amount to over $220 million for California consumers, the Mercury News reports.
In addition, California needs to learn to manage its budget better. The state is the most populous in the union and it has some of the highest taxes in the country. The solution to a problem is not always throwing more money at it. California has managed to produce a budget surplus in the last few years, so it can certainly make adjustments to the money already circulating in the budget.
The CTIA, an organization that represents the wireless communication industry in the United States, has argued in a legal filing that the state has “no authority to impose surcharges on text messages.” Thankfully, the federal government has also stepped in. The FCC ruled Wednesday that text messages are an “information service” similar to emails, a decision that could complicate the California proposal.
There is no reason the California proposal should pass, but when it comes to Californians voting on taxes, anything certainly is possible.