SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Governor Gavin Newsom wants voters to reject a new tax on the wealthy that would pay for more electric vehicles in the nation’s most populous state, warning in a new television ad on the statewide that a measure on the November ballot will not help the environment but is rather “a cynical corporate plan to seize a huge subsidy from taxpayers”.
Proposition 30 would raise taxes for people who earn more than $2 million a year. That would generate up to $5 billion in new taxes each year, and most of that money would go to programs that help people buy electric cars and install charging stations. A smaller amount would go to forest fire prevention and intervention programs.
The campaign for the electoral measure is paid for by the ride-sharing company Lyft. Last year, state regulators ordered companies like Lyft to ensure nearly all of their rides are in electric vehicles by 2030. Newsom says the ballot measure is Lyft’s attempt to make taxpayers pay.
“Don’t be fooled. Prop 30 was touted as a climate initiative. But in reality, it was designed by one company to funnel state income taxes to benefit their business,” Newsom says in the ad, which will air in all major media markets in the state. . “Put simply, Prop 30 is a Trojan horse that puts corporate welfare above the fiscal welfare of our entire state.”
Newsom doesn’t mention Lyft by name in the ad, but as he speaks, a headline from the San Francisco Chronicle is displayed in the background that reads, “Why is Lyft funding this California ballot measure on electric cars ?”
Representatives for Lyft did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
In response to the announcement, the Yes on 30 campaign noted that it was supported by numerous groups, including the American Lung Association and the California Democratic Party.
“It is disappointing that the governor is siding with the California Republican Party and a handful of San Francisco billionaires who would rather see children breathing toxic, polluted air than pay their fair share,” the campaign said in a statement. an email to the Associated Press.
“The opposition has never been able to point to an actual provision of the measure that provides a special benefit to Lyft or any other interest,” said Bill Magavern, policy director for the Coalition for Clean Air, the one of the groups that developed the measure. . “The money would go to state agencies that the governor himself oversees and would fund existing programs that the governor himself funds through his budget.”
Newsom has been a big advocate for electric cars, approving more than $10 billion in new spending over the next few years to accelerate their adoption in California. Last month, California regulators approved new rules which will require new cars, vans and SUVs to be electric, hydrogen or gas-electric hybrids by 2035.
California law allows voters to bypass the state legislature to pass their own laws at the ballot box, typically resulting in multiple actions each year. It is not uncommon for governors to campaign for or against these measures. But it’s fairly rare for governors to appear in TV ads that speak directly to voters on an issue unrelated to their own election campaigns.
“No one has more credibility on this issue than the governor,” said Matt Rodriguez, campaign manager for the No on 30 campaign. “I think you’re going to find that voters in California trust Gavin Newsom on the best way to fight climate change.”
Newsom is being challenged in his re-election campaign this year by Brian Dahle, a little-known Republican senator who has yet to raise enough money to run a strong statewide campaign. Free from the pressure of a well-funded challenger, the Newsom campaign has so far spent its money on ads in other states. who criticize the Republican governors of Florida and Texas.