Tax the rich for more EVs? California Democrats split

Oct 16, 2022, 9:47 PM | Updated: 10:05 pm
FILE - Gov. Gavin Newsom, center, is flanked by state lawmakers while discussing the package of leg...

FILE - Gov. Gavin Newsom, center, is flanked by state lawmakers while discussing the package of legislation he signed that accelerates the climate goals of the nation's most populous state, at Mare Island in Vallejo, Calif., Friday, Sept. 16, 2022. Newsom opposes Proposition 30, which would raise taxes on people making more that $2 million to pay for electric vehicle infrastructure and firefight resources. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California ballot measure that would tax the rich to help put more electric cars on the road may seem tailor-made to win support from Democrats in a state known for climate leadership, but Proposition 30 has one notable opponent: Gov. Gavin Newsom. That’s put the Democratic governor on the opposite side of his own party and against his traditional environmental allies.

The proposition before voters would add a 1.75% tax on personal income of more than $2 million, or fewer than 43,000 people. State analysts estimate it would raise up to $5 billion a year, mostly to help people buy electric vehicles and to build charging stations, with some also dedicated to resources for fighting wildfires.

Environmental and health group backers say California needs dedicated funding to speed the transition away from gas-powered cars and help lower planet-warming emissions. Transportation accounts for 40% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions, and increasingly deadly wildfires are another major source of carbon.

“We can’t meet our climate goals without something like this,” said Mary Creasman, chief executive officer for California Environmental Voters. “It’s either going to be all of us who pays, or it’s going to be the wealthiest who can afford to pay.”

Newsom has branded Proposition 30 as a money grab by ridesharing giant Lyft, which has spent at least $45 million backing it. State regulators have mandated that all rideshare trips be zero-emission by 2030. Uber has not taken a position on the measure.

“Don’t be fooled, Prop. 30´s being advertised as a climate initiative, but in reality it was devised by a single corporation to funnel state income taxes to benefit their company,” Newsom says in one TV ad.

Supporters reject that characterization, saying that Lyft got involved after environmental groups were already discussing a ballot measure. Creasman said it was important to “call our own team and governor out for lying” about the origins of the measure.

In an election year where Newsom is expected to cruise to reelection for a second term, the fight over Proposition 30 has become perhaps the most contentious of the season for Democrats. It comes months after state air regulators approved a Newsom-backed plan to ban the sale of most new gas-powered cars in the state by 2035. Newsom notes that he has already dedicated $10 billion to various programs aimed at boosting EV adoption over the next six years.

Half the money raised in Proposition 30 for electric vehicles would go into an equity account designed to expand transportation options and limit air pollution in low-income or disadvantaged neighborhoods. It could be used to help people buy electric cars or to put cleaner delivery trucks, buses and even e-bikes on the roads.

Wildfires, too, have become an increasingly urgent problem as climate change makes the state hotter and drier. Most of the state’s deadliest and most destructive wildfires have occurred in the last few years, and the state estimates wildfires released more than 85 million metric tons of carbon emissions in 2021 — more than the annual emissions from electricity.

Lyft says it supports the measure because reducing emissions is good climate policy.

“Proposition 30 funds this through a tax on individuals who earn more than $2 million a year. I’m fortunate enough to be impacted by this tax and happy to pay it to help turn back the clock on this existential threat,” Logan Green, the company’s chief executive officer, wrote in a blog post.

Joining Newsom in opposing the measure are the California Teachers Association, the California Chamber of Commerce and some venture capitalists who are helping fund the “No” campaign.

The money raised by the tax wouldn’t count toward a state budget rule that says a certain percentage of revenue must go to K-12 education, a provision the teachers don’t like. Meanwhile, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office said the proposal could force lower spending in other areas based on certain budget rules, something supporters of the measure dispute.

Business groups note that California’s personal income tax is already the highest in the nation, and the ballot measure would put it over 15% for the highest earners. Loren Kaye, foundation president for the California Chamber of Commerce, also warned that a rapid expansion of electric vehicles could strain the energy grid, an argument the Newsom administration has rejected.

Backers of Proposition 30 include the California Democratic Party, the Clean Air Coalition, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the American Lung Association, which have rejected characterizations that the measure is designed to benefit Lyft specifically, noting there’s no provision that would expressly set aside money for rideshare drivers.

While Newsom’s existing commitment to electric vehicle infrastructure is significant, the state needs a more stable long-term revenue source, supporters argue. The tax increase would last for 20 years if the measure passes.

“We need a consistent, reliable source of funding that keeps us going through good budget years and bad budget years,” said Bill Magavern, policy director for the Coalition for Clean Air. Referring to Lyft, he added, “If the goal is to limit pollution, does it matter who is driving the EV?”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Iran’s national soccer team receives subdued welcome home

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iran’s national soccer team received a subdued welcome home after its World Cup defeat against the United States, a match played against the backdrop of ongoing anti-government protests in Iran. The players returned to Iran late Wednesday, a day their 1-0 loss. Anti-government protesters, considering the team a symbol of the regime, […]
3 hours ago
A child wearing a face mask and riding on a scooter passes by a worker in protective suit on his wa...
Associated Press

China eases some virus controls, searches pedestrians

BEIJING (AP) — More Chinese cities eased some anti-virus restrictions as police patrolled their streets to head off protests Thursday while the ruling Communist Party prepared for the high-profile funeral of late leader Jiang Zemin. Guangzhou in the south, Shijiazhuang in the north, Chengdu in the southwest and other major cities announced they were easing […]
3 hours ago
Professor Sean Turnell and his wife Dr. Ha Vu attend Question Time in the House of Representatives ...
Associated Press

Australian jailed in Myanmar applauded in Parliament

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Sean Turnell, an Australian economist who spent almost two years imprisoned in Myanmar, received a hero’s welcome Thursday at Australia’s Parliament House where lawmakers rose in a standing ovation and the prime minister praised his courage, optimism and resilience. Turnell, an adviser to Myanmar’s elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, was […]
3 hours ago
FILE - European Council President Charles Michel arrives to meet with European Union foreign policy...
Associated Press

China’s Xi urges Ukraine talks in meeting with EU’s Michel

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese leader Xi Jinping urged negotiations on a political solution to the Ukraine conflict in talks with visiting European Council President Charles Michel in Beijing Thursday, state broadcaster CCTV said. Xi was quoted as saying that “solving the Ukrainian crisis through political means is in the best interest of Europe and the […]
3 hours ago
Witalij Miskow, 45, speaks about his mental trauma at a clinic which treats veterans for PTSD, post...
Associated Press

‘Do something:’ Ukraine works to heal soldiers’ mental scars

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Sleep plunges the soldier back into the horrors of Ukraine’s battlefields. He can hear bombs falling again and picture explosions. He imagines himself frantically running, trying to save himself and others. The nightmares are so vivid and frightening that he pleads with his doctor for help. “It will blow my mind,” […]
3 hours ago
A woman uses her phone in front of monitors showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm w...
Associated Press

Asian shares gain after Fed chair signals slower rate hikes

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares advanced in Europe and Asia on Thursday after a rally on Wall Street spurred by the Federal Reserve chair’s comments on easing the pace of interest rate hikes to tame inflation. Signs that China may be shifting its approach to containing COVID-19 outbreaks to focus more on vaccinations, while some cities […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Tax the rich for more EVs? California Democrats split