Written by Juan Sebastian Fragozo
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected many things in our lives, it has disrupted our daily routines, our plans, our relationships, and wreaked havoc on our economy. While the vaccine rollout is taking place, and hope is on the horizon, citizens all around the state have another obstacle to overcome; overdue payments for basic utilities.
Many Californians are facing a dreadful situation with their utility bills, Deborah Bell-Holt is one of them. Even though, due to the state of emergency, utility providers are banned from disconnecting people from the service, that doesn’t stop them from billing customers. Bell-Holt’s utility debt has now grown to almost $15,000. And as soon as the governor lifts the state of emergency, disconnections will begin to take place and companies will begin to try and collect on debts.
The State of California is expected to receive an additional 25 billion dollars, and with that surplus in resources, Republican Senators Jim Nielsen and Shannon Grove propose helping citizens, especially low-income families, by paying billions of water, electricity, and internet bills. The Republicans also aim to help small struggling independent pharmacies that provide healthcare to people in more remote areas.
“The Governor’s January Budget reflected an unexpected revenue of $15 billion. In early February, updated information indicated that actual revenue received through January showed still more unanticipated revenues of $10 billion, $4 billion of which is likely to be discretionary after constitutional required payments are made to schools and reserves.
It is in the best interest of taxpayers that these one-time surpluses be spent on the forgiveness of utility debts, and on small pharmacies who provide healthcare to underserved communities,” reads a letter by Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama), Vice Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, and Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield).