Target: Senator Kevin de León, Chair of the California State Senate Appropriations Committee
Goal: Prevent passage of AT&T-backed bill that would replace California’s government subsidized phone service with a voucher program for low-income residents
California’s LifeLine program, which provides 1.2 million people with basic phone service, is being threatened in the state legislature by an AT&T-funded bill that aims to replace the service with a voucher program. The proposed bill comes at a time when the California Public Utilities Commission, or the CPUC, is about to introduce much-needed improvements to the subsidized phone service, like prepaid wireless options. Telecommunications lobbyists are hoping to sneak an approval of their voucher program before the CPUC can make any updates. Condemn this bill that only benefits cable and phone companies, and not low-income Californians.
The CPUC is currently in charge of setting the discounted phone service rates for low-income residents, but if this bill were to pass all governmental oversight would be lost. The proposed voucher is valued at only $11.85, which could prove to be a very ineffective discount, considering that companies like AT&T, and not the CPUC, have control over the cost of regular telecom services.
This voucher program is nothing more than an insignificant coupon that will surely result in more expensive phone bills for California’s poorest residents. The California legislature should let the CPUC implement its improvements in the LifeLine program, without interference from telecom companies that are only interested in profits. Please sign this petition and condemn this misleading voucher program.
Dear Chair of the California State Senate Appropriations Committee Senator Kevin de León,
Do not approve AB 1407, a bill that attempts to replace California’s LifeLine program, which currently offers low-income residents subsidized phone service. While the LifeLine program is in desperate need of improvements that include prepaid wireless service and Internet-based phone service, this voucher program works against consumers in that it eliminates any oversight by the California Public Utilities Commission. So while in theory customers will have more phone service providers to choose from, it will come at the cost of being vulnerable to the increased rates and fees of mainstream phone services.
Since the CPUC has no control over the prices of regular telecom services, the $11.85 coupon that low-income residents will receive may turn out to be useless. This measure will put low-income consumers, which include seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities, at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing the most basic means of communication.
The California Labor Federation, AARP, and the Consumer Federation of California have all voiced their opposition to the passage of this measure because it will result in diminished consumer protection. Please let the CPUC update the LifeLine program that millions of low-income Californians rely on.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jason Alley via Flickr