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CA Prop 30 Would Have Taxed Millionaires to Pay for Electric Vehicles

A Chevrolet Volt connected to a charging cord
Flickr / Creative Commons
An electric vehicle being charged

Proposition 30 was designed to create a new fund — the Clean Cars and Clean Air Trust Fund — to help speed the state’s transition to electric vehicles. Money collected for this fund would ultimately go towards three distinct purposes: to provide rebates and loans for drivers to switch to electric vehicles and other zero-emission transportation options; to expand infrastructure to support electric vehicles; and to advance wildfire prevention activities.

To raise this fund, the proposition would have created a 1.75 percent tax on personal income above $2 million. Currently, the State of California taxes income above $2 million at 13.3 percent, so individuals making that level of income would pay over 15 percent in state income taxes. The tax was set to begin in January 2023. It could have remained in effect for 20 years or end earlier if statewide emissions were reduced sufficiently before 2043.

Prop 30 was supported by several environmental groups and the California Democratic Party. However, Governor Gavin Newsom, the state’s most prominent Democratic politician, voiced opposition to the bill. Newsom appeared in an ad campaign ahead of the election telling voters to say no to Prop 30. He claimed the proposition was a corporate carveout for the rideshare company Lyft.

While Lyft was the largest donor in favor of Prop 30, none of the funds would go directly to the company. It could have indirectly benefitted the company, though, because rideshare companies in California are expected to transition their fleets to 90 percent electric vehicles by 2030. Prop 30 could have provided the funds for Lyft to achieve that goal.

Andrew is a scientist and communicator who wants to make scientific research accessible to everyone and to ensure that science is discussed accurately and responsibly.