Plagued by wildfire smoke, smog, soot, extreme heat and drought, Californians have often wondered “what can I do to help?” Now every voter in the state can be part of the solution to air pollution, climate change and wildfires by voting YES on Proposition 30, the Clean Air Initiative on this year’s ballot.
Written by an environmental/labor/business alliance (including Coalition for Clean Air) and drawing support from health, scientific and environmental health groups, Prop 30 has a simple goal: tax the rich, clean up the air. For many years, essential programs to clean up transportation and curb wildfires have suffered from the lack of sufficient reliable funding. Prop 30 would solve that problem by levying a small 1.75% tax on the highest incomes in the state, those over $2 million a year.
The tax would raise $4-5 billion a year, which would go to CalFire, the Air Resources Board and the Energy Commission to control and prevent wildfires and to provide zero-emission transportation. Transportation causes about 80% of California’s air pollution; we can solve that problem by electrifying transportation, and Prop 30 would deliver that solution. Incentives would go for replacing dirty old diesel and gasoline engines in trucks, buses, cars and other equipment with zero-emission engines, and for the infrastructure to fuel them. Californians who do not own vehicles would also benefit from EV car-sharing, van-pooling, bike-sharing, e-bikes, protected bus lanes, electric buses and transit passes.
Importantly, at least half of the vehicle and infrastructure funds would go to benefit people who live in low-income and disadvantaged communities. Prop 30 would assure that all Californians, especially those who have suffered the worst impacts of pollution and racism, benefit from the transition to clean transportation.
Unfortunately, extremely wealthy individuals who do not want to pay their fair share to clean up our air are funding a grossly deceptive advertising campaign — a judge called their arguments “false and/or misleading” — claiming that Prop 30 is “corporate welfare” because its primary funder is Lyft. But opponents are unable to point to anything in the measure that singles out Lyft for special treatment, because Prop 30 in fact does no special favors for any company. The truth is that the money raised by Prop 30 would go to state agencies to fund existing programs that are now so stretched for funds that they run out of money every year, leaving many California residents and businesses unable to afford the transition to electric cars, trucks and buses.
You can find more information at https://yeson30.org.