Governor Newsom calls Proposition 30 a "Trojan horse," urges "no" vote

Governor Gavin Newsom is doubling down on his opposition of Proposition 30, a tax on the wealthy to fund climate projects. In a newly released political ad, Newsom takes aim at the prop and its major backer, ride-share company Lyft. In it, he calls the measure a "Trojan horse" and says "it’s devised by a single corporation to funnel state income taxes to benefit their company." 

Newsom’s role in the ad, underscoring the split between the governor and the state’s Democratic party and several environmental groups that support the measure. "We don’t think we’re doing enough to address air pollution and wildfires and climate change," said Bill Magavern, policy director for the Coalition for Clean Air, one of the backers of Prop 30. "And one of the best ways that we can address those problems is through Prop 30." 

Voters will decide in November if Californians who make more than $2 million a year should be taxed an additional 1.75% to fund climate projects. Most of the money would go towards zero-emission vehicle subsidies, especially for low and middle-income residents, and building more charging stations. A portion would go towards wildfire response and prevention, including hiring and training. Supporters include the California Democratic Party and Lyft, which has donated more than $15 million to the campaign. 

In a statement a Lyft spokesperson said: "When environmental groups approached us about partnering on their plan to achieve our state’s transformational climate and clean air goals, we were excited at the prospect. The recent heatwave and growing number of wildfires throughout the state are an important reminder of how urgent it is for us to act on the climate crisis, and how we’re all going to have to do our part. That's why Lyft is proud to partner with state firefighters, the American Lung Association, climate leaders and prominent environmental, public health, business, and labor organizations on Prop 30."

Supporters also say it’ll help achieve the state’s zero-emission goals, including a mandate and Lyft and Uber to use zero-emission cars for 90% of their miles by 2030. The state Republican Party and California Teachers Association join Newsom in his opposition. The "no" campaign points to the billions of dollars the state’s already invested in zero emission vehicles and fighting climate change.

 The campaign and Newsom say Lyft is trying to use taxpayer money to meet the electrification mandate. "If this passes, you’re going to have all kinds of corporations, publicly traded companies out there trying to go to the ballot for tax increases for what they want," said Matt Rodriguez, campaign manager for the "No on 30" campaign. "This is bad public policy." 

CALIFORNIA NEWS: Half a million PG&E customers braced for potential rotating outages, conservation efforts pay off

Supporters say there isn’t enough resources for the state’s climate goals. "He funds these programs through the budget, just not enough," said Magavern. "So we’re proposing to increase those, I think his real problem about this, is we’re funding it through a tax on the ultra-wealthy." 

Newsom’s split from his party and alignment with anti-tax groups came as a surprise to many. But California reporter for Politico, Jeremy White, said the governor is likely wary of a tax increase amid ongoing economic pressures. "You should keep in mind tax increases are not that politically easy to achieve," said White.  "Even beyond the governor, there’s a question out there, if we are going to raise taxes on the wealthiest again, what is the best source for the revenue."