It’s that time of year again when tricks happen at the end of the California Legislature’s session. What will they dream of this year to top last year’s hostile taxes and regulations?
So far, the big issue is whether to dole out more corporate welfare to the utility monopoly Pacific Gas & Electric. PG&E’s equipment caused over a dozen fires in 2017 and they’re looking for anyone other than their shareholders to pay the bill.
Gov. Brown has signed up to do their bidding, proposing legislation in a special committee that would bailout the utilities and protect them from paying for fires their equipment causes. Instead, homeowners, communities, and victims would be on the hook for their failure to prevent massive wildfires with higher premiums and less money when their property is destroyed. This is corporate cronyism at its worst.
Rather than focusing on improving their safety practices, what went wrong and how to prevent fires, PG&E is blaming “climate change” for their fires and threatening bankruptcy unless Sacramento bails them out. Climate change is not an excuse to eliminate their responsibility to plan, prepare, and safeguard against fires and that is precisely the result of their proposal.
PG&E says that the very cities, counties, homeowners, and businesses that their fires burned down should foot the bill, instead of them. Or, if they have to pay the bill, the utilities should get to soak their ratepayers instead of their Wall Street owners.
This sadly is how monopolies always work.
You’d think the big spenders in Sacramento would have learned their lesson after passing an unpopular gas tax last year and facing the wrath of angry voters in a recall election. But, maybe not.
Sacramento needs to wake up and look out for ordinary people instead of giving us more taxes, more government control of our businesses, and more rewards for well-heeled benefactors – like investor-owned utilities that aren’t satisfied with their monopolies and, instead, want even more special treatment.
A very public bailout of utilities while wildfire victims are rebuilding simply isn’t the right thing to do. This is the time of year for Republicans to stand united against Sacramento’s bad habit of taking more from us and transferring it to their friends.
Shawn Steel, a former California Republican Party chair, is California’s committeeman for the Republican National Committee. Harmeet Dhillon is California’s committeewoman for the Republican National Committee.