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Voters across the Inland Empire take to the polls on Nov. 4, 2014. (File photo by Eric Reed, ɫ̳/SCNG)
Voters across the Inland Empire take to the polls on Nov. 4, 2014. (File photo by Eric Reed, ɫ̳/SCNG)
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You know a ballot measure is wrong when it manages to unite the California Teachers Association, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Gov. Gavin ɫ̳om and the California Republican Party. That is the story of Proposition 30. We join this chorus of opposition and encourage all Californians to reject Prop. 30.

The measure itself contains ideas many Californians like — funding programs to reduce air pollution and prevent wildfires — and a funding mechanism many Californians won’t find particularly offensive — a tax hike on incomes above $2 million per year.

Related: Our full list of endorsements

Proponents of the measure present many practical reasons for addressing air pollution and wildfires. Even someone of a limited government bent can recognize the legitimate need to mitigate the harmful effects of air pollution on the health and well-being of millions of people. And certainly every Californians understands the need to take action to prevent wildfires. They endanger lives, destroy property and contribute significantly to pollution.

Related endorsement: Vote yes on Proposition 28

However, while the proponents of this measure identify obvious problems, their proposed solutions, as advanced in this measure, are suspect.

The measure calls for tax increases of $3.5 billion to $5 billion per year from high-income earners. This is the first problem. The state’s general fund budget in 2015-16 was $115 billion. This year, the general fund budget is over $234 billion. The notion that a tax increase is needed to address air pollution and wildfire responses is, on its face, absurd.

The point of this measure, then, is not merely to raise money. It’s how the money is used.

Most of the revenue generated by this measure, 80% of it, would go toward subsidies to help individuals, businesses and governments to purchase zero-emission vehicles and fund the installation of zero-emission vehicle charging and fueling stations. The reason for this is obvious when you realize one of the biggest sponsors of Proposition 30 is the rideshare company Lyft.

Statewide: Our endorsements for all California-wide races on the 2022 ballot

The state of California has imposed a mandate on rideshare companies requiring rideshare companies to utilize a zero-emission vehicle fleet. Lyft, then, is obviously hoping they can shift the cost burden for fulfilling this mandate to high-income Californians.

“Prop. 30 is a special interest carve-out — a cynical scheme devised by a single corporation to funnel state income tax revenue to their company,” Gov. ɫ̳om bluntly stated in a recent statement.

Indeed, while it’s perfectly rational on the part of Lyft to support this measure, that doesn’t necessarily make this good policy. Nor does it affirm the idea that the optimal way of reducing air pollution and encouraging the transition to zero-emission vehicles is to impose a new tax hike and spend $3.5 billion to $5 billion per year on subsidies for zero-emission vehicle purchases.

California has the money to address air pollution and wildfires in more thoughtful and deliberate ways than throwing billions toward zero-emission vehicle subsidies.

Proposition 30’s proponents are clever. They hide behind legitimate issues and even tap into class envy. But this measure is a special interest money grab, pure and simple.

Vote no on Proposition 30.

To help you make decisions about the numerous candidates, measures, propositions and other races on your ballot, our editorial board (made up of opinion writers and editors), makes recommendations every election. The process is completely separate from newsroom reporting and journalists. With the exception of our executive editor, the members of our editorial board are not news reporters or editors. 

Sal Rodriguez, the opinion editor for the Southern California ɫ̳ Group’s 11 newspapers, heads the editorial board and guides our stances on public policy and political matters.  

Every week, our team analyzes legislation, monitors political developments, interviews elected officials or policy advocates and writes editorials on the issues of the day. Unsigned editorials reflect the consensus of our editorial board, with the aim of offering arguments that are empirically sound and intellectually consistent.

We apply this same process when considering to endorse candidates.

As a practical matter, we are selective in which races we endorse in. We endorse on all statewide ballot measures, competitive congressional races, select races for the state legislature and select countywide and city elections.

We identify credible candidates through surveys and interviews, deliberate based on our editorial precedent and in light of contemporary realities, and issue endorsements accordingly.

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