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Should the telephone surcharge be increased and other funds for emergency room physicians, hospital emergency rooms, community clinics, emergency personnel training/equipment, and 911 telephone system be allocated?
Official Summary and Arguments
Proposition 67 increases telephone surcharge and allocates other funds for emergency room physicians, hospital emergency rooms, community clinics, emergency personnel training/equipment, and 911 telephone system. Fiscal Impact: Increased state revenues of about $500 million annually to reimburse physicians and hospitals for uncompensated emergency medical services and other specified purposes. Continues $32 million in state funding for physicians and clinics for uncompensated medical care.
Official Voter Information Guide (pdf)
Campaign Finance Information
A YES vote on this measure means:
The state would impose a 3 percent emergency telephone surcharge, in addition to the existing surcharge, on bills for telephone services for calls made within the state. These revenues would be used to provide additional funds to reimburse physicians and hospitals for uncompensated emergency and trauma care and to fund other specified programs.
A NO vote on this measure means:
The emergency telephone number surcharge would continue to be limited to 0.75 percent on bills for telephone services for calls made within the state. Additional funding to reimburse physicians and hospitals for uncompensated emergency and trauma care, or for other specified programs, would continue to depend largely upon action by the Legislature and Governor.
Arguments FOR Proposition 67
Firefighters, paramedics, doctors, and nurses say: Prop 67 will make sure emergency medical care is available when you and your family need it most. Emergency rooms are closing. Others are severely overcrowded. Paramedics, emergency room doctors, and nurses are overwhelmed. Save emergency care. Save lives. Yes on Prop. 67.
Arguments AGAINST Proposition 67
Proposition 67 is a $540 million phone tax - a tax on talking. There's no cap on cell phone or business phone taxes. More than 1 million seniors will be affected. 90% of the money goes to large health care corporations and special interests - with no mandatory audits or financial controls.
For Proposition 67
Against Proposition 67
Nonpartisan Background and Analysis
Selected Articles, Editorials, Opinions, Reports
The war over proposition 67
Phone tax for hospitals? Prop. 67 is the wrong cure
Prop. 67 is emergency care's solution
Last updated on September 30, 2004
For Proposition 67
"The challenge of social justice is to evoke a sense of community that we need to make our nation a better place, just as we make it a safer place."
Commentary 1: "I support this inititiative"
Prop. 67, The Emergency Medical Care Initiative, proposes a 3% tax increase on telephone usage. After the implementation of this tax, the total amount that a telephone company can charge a residential telephone user is 50 cents per month. This new surcharge will bring an estimated $550 million annually for emergency medical care.
What this money will specifically go towards is:
I support this initiative that affects the status of health care for all Californians and urge my fellow Unitarian Universalists to support it also.
Against Proposition 67
"We need not think alike to love alike."
Commentary 1: "The telephone tax is highly regressive, placing the burden of the tax on the poorest in our State."
Although the premise of Proposition 67 seems reasonable - a minor telephone tax to pay for uncompensated emergency and trauma medical care performed by hospitals, doctors and clinics (revenue estimated at $500 million annually) - the proposition also includes both unfortunate details and deceptive language.
For example, aside from the telephone tax, Prop 67 mandates that each county must also establish a Maddy Fund that would be administered by the state (previously optional and generally comprised of "specified revenues from criminal fines and penalties.") While provisions are made for counties to apply for control of some portion of those funds, we should not support either the mandating of new county funds, nor the shifting of control of such funds to the state. This is of particular concern when the proposition appears to voters to be only a telephone tax. It is estimated that $32 million in revenue each year would be raised and transferred from county Maddy Funds to the state.
The actual allocation of the funds seems inappropriate and deceptive in its language. The fund is described as "the new 911 Emergency and Trauma Care Fund," however, less than 1% of the money actually goes toward 911 emergency services, while 90% of the money goes toward hospitals (60%) and physicians (30%). The most highlighted groups get the least of the money - Emergency and Trauma first responders (training and related equipment for firefighters, paramedics and other first responders) get 3.75% and nonprofit Community Clinics get just 5%. While this may make sense in terms of actual costs, we are concerned that the real purpose of proposition is deceptive in it's message as helping 911 responders.
I have a background in economics (Masters 1966) and have always been interested in using our tax system to provide an impetus to move society in desirable ways, and in making sure taxes are fair. The telephone tax is highly regressive, placing the burden of the tax on the poorest in our State while the rich pay a trivial amount in relationship to their income. I believe Proposition 67 violates the UU principle of "Justice, Equity and Compassion in Human Relations". To function in our society, we all need phones, especially the poor. We shouldn't continue to increase taxes on such basic necessities.
Fines on criminal activity should be used to pay for the courts, law enforcement and victim retribution. We shouldn't tax the poor a higher percentage of their income to pay for facilities we all benefit from.
Prop 67 also sets a curious precedent on how one industry can tax an unrelated industry. Let's pay for better emergency care from progressive taxes so the rich pay a fair share in relationship to their income. Vote no on 67.
"The expenses of government, having for their object
the interest of all, should be borne by everyone, and the more a man enjoys
the advantages of society, the more he ought to hold himself honored in
contributing to those expenses."
SUPPORTERS SAY that Californians could lose access to emergency rooms and trauma centers due to expected closures. Proposition 67 will provide needed funds to keep these care facilities open and staffed. It will also provide needed funds to help equip and train emergency personnel, and upgrade our 911 emergency telephone system.
OPPONENTS SAY Proposition 67 increases phone taxes by $540 million, or 400 percent, with no cap on small business phone or cell phone taxes. Oppenents say this could slow our economic recovery. They say that Proposition 67 misleads, since 90 percent of the money would go to large health care corporations and special interests, with less than 1 percent going to the 911 system.
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