The proposed tax on veterinary services in California is back. The dreadful idea to pitch the welfare of animals into the state’s budget sinkhole with a nearly 10 percent tariff will be in the budget plan presented by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in his annual “State of the State” today.
After we blogged about this potentially catastrophic idea in December, it looked like the Democrats in the Senate and Assembly saw the error of Arnie’s ways. They passed a plan without the tax on December 19. But the Governor and his legislators haven’t been able to agree, and he wants the “Fido Fine” back.
What’s the fuss? When the cost of health care services jumps nearly 10 percent, animal advocates and veterinarians predict a reduction in routine wellness visits—which means missing opportunities to treat problems early, and more affordably and effectively. They worry that recession-battered guardians already struggling to keep animals in the family will be forced to abandon them rather than pay for treatment. Aside from the humane consequences, there is also a practical matter: More abandoned animals will only add additional strain (and cost) to shelters and rescues—hardly a positive for the budget.