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Measure to reduce phone and internet subsidies for low-income families withdrawn

The San Francisco headquarters of the state's Public Utilities Commission
Flickr / Creative Commons
The San Francisco headquarters of the state's Public Utilities Commission

Under the proposed rule, low-income California households who qualify for federal help to pay for phone service and internet access would have lost some or all of their California LifeLine monthly discounts. The result: Instead of being able to stack three discounts, most California LifeLine users would have been limited to two, for a total of up to $39.25 in discounts a month.

CalMatters reportsthe commission was scheduled to discuss and vote on the proposal at its meeting last week but officials removed it from the agenda without a written explanation. A commission spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

The withdrawal comes after months of objections and mounting pressure from state legislators, LifeLine provider companies, and ordinary Californians who submitted 38 public comments to the commission.

The California LifeLine program provides discounts to low-income households for phone and internet services. It is similar to and sometimes is used with the federal Lifeline program.

Until March of this year, low-income families were able to leverage up to $75 a month in discounts from a combination of three subsidies. They could "stack" two federal subsidies and one California LifeLine subsidy to pay for phone and internet.

The commission will next meet on October 20.