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Phone Surcharge

Summary: The measure would add a surcharge of up to 3% on in-state telephone calls on monthly phone bills. The money would be used to pay for emergency medical services. The surcharge for residential customers would be capped at 50 cents per month, but there would be no cap on the 3% surcharge for cellphone and business phone lines.

Supporters: The measure was placed on the ballot by the Coalition to Preserve Emergency Care. Backers include the California Medical Assn. and the California Primary Care Assn.

Opponents: A number of business and anti-tax groups, including the California Chamber of Commerce and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., oppose the measure. Phone companies have contributed millions of dollars to defeat it.

Impact: The proposal would raise about $500 million a year, which would be used to help keep county trauma centers open and upgrade the 911 phone system.

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Opponents say the measure would damage the state’s economy, adding that taxes on phone bills are already too high, and small businesses would take a big hit.

Websites: Coalition to Preserve Emergency Care: www.saveemergencycare.org.

Californians to Stop the Phone Tax: www.stopthephonetax.com.


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