State governments are always looking for ways to fund their various local projects, and California's latest idea is a metaphorical goldmine in that regard.
Courtesy of a USA Today report, we now know that California's Public Utilities Commission is considering enacting a tax on text messages.
This isn't coming completely out of the blue, though. Apparently, California is determining whether or not such a tax would comply with much older federal rules; the Public Purpose Programs (PPP) legislation that goes back to the 1930s, to be specific. The PPP allows states to impose taxes on communications services in order to subsidize them for low-income citizens.
Naturally, the telecommunications industry is not too happy with California's ideas. The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) issued the following statement in a legal filing to the Public Utilities Commission:
Subjecting wireless carriers’ text messaging traffic to surcharges that cannot be applied to the lion’s share of messaging traffic and messaging providers is illogical, anticompetitive and harmful to consumers.
In other words, the CTIA feels that a texting tax would be unfair, given that other communications services which rely on Wifi (such as Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or even Discord) to function would not be hit with similar fees.
For better or worse, California's regulators will vote on the matter sometime in January. Whether you're for or against the idea of a texting tax, one thing is certain: This is shaping up to be one of the most controversial proposals California has considered in quite some time - a quick glance at your social media feed of choice should provide ample evidence of that.