Prop. 30 divides California’s ruling elite
Even by national standards, California’s state ballot initiative campaigns are high-profile politics. You can campaign for US Senator in most states in America for less than it costs to qualify and campaign successfully to pass a statewide ballot initiative in California. Sacramento political insiders describe any controversial move with well-funded antagonists as a “war.” And if politics is war by other means, they are right. The last war is about Proposition 30, the “Clean Cars and Clean Air Act”.
What is unusual about Proposition 30, however, is how it has divided California’s ruling elite. On the Prop 30 side, you have the billionaire Democrats, a powerful corporation that bills itself as both woke and green, and the firefighters union. Governor Newsom and the California Teachers Association oppose the prop. 30, and to fund their opposition campaign, an assortment of individuals and organizations who defy categorization other than to say that Newsom and the CTA have chosen surprising bedfellows.
In this battle of behemoths, and in an extremely rare political twist, the CTA faces a bigger and stronger tyrant.
The best way to get up-to-date information on campaign spending in California is on the Secretary of State’s Campaign Finance website under “Ballot Proposals and Measures.” Since the only money that matters in a state ballot initiative is the big money, select “Proposal 30,” then for each committee listed, click the “Late and $5,000+ Contributions Received” link. This will give you information on every major contribution up to 10 days ago.
The main force behind Proposition 30 is Lyft, which has already poured $25 million into the Yes on 30 campaign. That’s over 90% of the funding so far, and if their battle to rewrite AB 5 in 2020 is a indication, Lyft is ready to spend the opposition in the ground.
Joining Newsom and the CTA against Prop. 30 is the committee uncreatively named “No on 30,” with major gifts totaling $11.4 million so far. Major donors include individuals whose giving history puts them all over the map: Libertarians, Never Trump Republicans, and Democrats. The motivations must vary. No new taxes? Not another grant? Commercial or ideological concern with Lyft’s agenda?
“Govern California,” a centrist PAC — mimicking the public sector union model — that has 18 chapters across the state, also opposes Prop. 30 with $1 million in contributions. This allows mega-donors to contribute to each chapter, and then each chapter donates to an assortment of targeted candidates for support. The practical effect of this is that instead of a donor being limited by the maximum individual donation they can make to a candidate, that maximum is amplified by the number of Govern for California chapters they support, which at in turn donate to that candidate. Great.
Although the firefighters’ union and teachers’ union have not made significant contributions to committees for or against Proposition 30, at least not yet, they are the face of the campaigns. Lyft may be paying the networks, but it’s a firefighter we see on TV, in a saturation level campaign to convince us that Proposition 30 will stop wildfires, clean the air and fight change. climatic. Similarly, Newsom and teachers are the face of the opposition’s campaign, which stresses the need for income taxes to prioritize “classrooms, communities” and “halfway kindergartens, public schools.” , community colleges”.
Rhetoric aside, what does Prop. 30 ?
The initiative provides an additional income tax of 1.75% on income over $2.0 million per year, and this new levy is expected to raise up to $4.5 billion per year. Of this total, 80% will subsidize ZEV (Zero Emissions Vehicle) charging stations and ZEV rebates, and 15% will pay for wildfire fighting – mainly to hire more firefighters – and 5% will be spent on clearing up the fires. forests to prevent future forest fires.
The biggest problem with this initiative is not just that it raises taxes, provides subsidies and expands state government. These are all problems, but at the risk of heresy, one can consider the possibility that if new taxes, subsidies and bureaucracies did something productive, it would make sense. Thinking back to the construction of the state water project in the 1950s and 1960s, we see that public investment was not always an unnecessary waste.
That’s not the case here.
When the California State Legislature and regulated electric utilities figured out how to reliably pump 70 or 80 gigawatts (or more) into the California grid, instead of the intermittently reached 50 gigawatts that characterize electric capacity current, then they can start disconnecting the natural gas lines that heat our homes, and then they can force automakers to sell only electric cars and force ride-sharing companies to ban non-electric vehicles. And that’s not all.
When the California high-tech innovators pushing for these special interest laws that are supposed to save the planet developed a battery that can be charged in five minutes instead of an hour, won’t catch fire, will last at least 250,000 miles, and put it in an EV that doesn’t cost twice as much as a gas car, or even a gas/electric hybrid, only then can they honestly claim that the electric era will be cheaper and just as convenient for people who just want to live their lives. They will also have to demonstrate that this new era of renewable electricity will be less destructive to the environment.
All in all, these are reasonable prerequisites. None of them were dealt with adequately.
But equally dishonest is the assertion that Prop. 30 will save California’s forests. A research paper published in March 2022 by the California Fire Science Consortium concluded the following: “Overall, between 1911 and 2011, tree density increased an average of six to seven times while the average height of trees has been reduced by 50%. This change in contemporary forest conditions resulted from growth at very high densities. It’s understood? California’s forests are Seven times as dense as 100 years ago.
Forests burn because at the same time that California firefighters became so adept at putting out natural fires caused by lightning, the state legislature almost obliviously regulated our lumber industry, as well as our ability to perform controlled burns, mechanical thinning and livestock grazing to reduce undergrowth.
That’s why forests burn so hard. These overgrown trees and overgrown brush are parched and stressed. Our once majestic forests have been reduced to powder kegs, for where the root systems of a single tree competed for water, there are now seven trees and a ton of brush. Until these absurd policies are reversed, devastating superfires will continue to burn. The destructive impact of these policy mistakes is unmatched in the millennia of Californian forests. If and when California’s forests are entirely gone, reduced to ashes, blame the environmentalists. It will be their fault.
Lyft has committed by 2030 to working only with electric vehicles. How many people driving for ridesharing companies, which aren’t exactly a high-paying profession, will be able to afford an electric vehicle? Equally concerning, how are they going to put in a decent shift as a driver, if they have to stop every three hours or so and line up to refuel at a rate of five miles of range for each minute spent connected to the “high speed” charger?
When 2030 rolls around and normal people who can’t afford electric vehicles can no longer make money in the ridesharing industry, Lyft can adapt. They can buy a fleet of company cars. When these cars aren’t loaded, Lyft can run them through independent drivers to earn money like 21st century sharecroppers. Or Lyft can simply deploy company cars that don’t need a driver at all. Lyft has options.
But for now, and as reported Reuters more than two years ago, “the company plans to push competitors, legislators and automakers to make it easier for drivers to switch to electric vehicles by creating financial incentives.”
It was an understatement and a promise kept. With Prop. 30, they push. Also reported by Reuters, “John Zimmer, co-founder and chairman of Lyft, said the company has reached a scale to impact policy change.” Also an understatement. Lyft has spent $79 million on Proposition 22, their 2020 initiative to override certain provisions of AB 5. They’ve spent $25 million so far this year on Proposition 30. As we enter the last weeks of the campaign season, there is no reason to think that their expenses will decrease.
CTA takes note. There’s a new kid in town. Equally woke, brandishing equally seductive populist rhetoric, armed with big bucks, and just like the CTA, determined to push its special-interest agenda forward no matter how it might actually help or hurt ordinary Californians.
Proposition 30 is likely to pass. But regardless of the outcome, the California state legislature should approve new nuclear power plants and end its war on natural gas development and infrastructure. They should guarantee equipment loans to revive California’s decimated logging and milling industry, and remove the regulations that make it so difficult to operate logging and ranching operations, as well as controlled burning and mechanical thinning.
Almost everything Prop. 30 is wrong. If passed, taxpayers will pump tens of billions into electric vehicle technology that will be obsolete within a decade or two. Billions more will be spent on hiring more firefighters, while only a token percentage will be spent on prevention. But in this war, money talks.