Proposition 30 on the Nov. 8 ballot would impose a 1.75 percent tax on personal income above $2 million (for individuals who are now taxed at a rate of 13.3 percent in California) and dedicate the revenue to zero-emission vehicle subsidies and vehicle infrastructure as well as wildfire suppression and prevention efforts. Here, two essays explore the issue.
Newsom is the political director of IBEW Local 569 and former president of the Ocean Beach Town Council. She lives in San Diego.
You’re not alone if it seems to you like every summer our wildfires get more frequent and more destructive, if it seems like we have more bad air quality days, if your asthma feels worse or if your homeowner’s insurance rates have gone up due to wildfire risk.
Climate change is impacting our day-to-day life in California.
Our air quality is a public health crisis, and we are facing more extreme weather events — heatwaves, drought and megafires.
The American Lung Association’s most recent report card gave San Diego County an F for the number of high ozone days we experience and an F for the amount of particle pollution in the air. These heightened levels of air pollution can lead to increased asthma attacks, complications for expectant mothers, lung cancer and premature death. Fine particle pollution from burning wood and fossil fuels is estimated to cause 48,000 premature deaths in the United States each year.
Even worse, California is far behind on its emissions’ reduction goals. We’re lagging on our commitments to prevent the worst effects of climate change.
But we have a path forward in Proposition 30, the Clean Air Initiative. By investing in zero-emission vehicles and charging infrastructure, and boosting wildfire prevention and suppression, we can reduce emissions and make California a cleaner, safer place to live. Proposition 30 funds dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from transit pollution and wildfire smoke with an additional 1.75 percent tax on annual incomes over $2 million. If you’re not one of those 35,000 Californian multimillionaires, you won’t pay a cent for Proposition 30, but you will benefit from cleaner air for all.
The funds and programs are subject to regular audits by the state auditor and state controller, and will continue for 20 years or until the state has reached our climate emissions goal, whichever comes first. Proposition 30 is a prudent, fiscally responsible way to ensure dedicated funding for reducing catastrophic wildfires and air pollution from vehicles.
Transit emissions are the biggest single source of air pollutants, and Proposition 30 tackles them from every angle. First, it provides families with subsidies to help make zero-emissions vehicles more affordable, with at least half of the money of the programs’ resources going to low-income Californians and disadvantaged communities. Second, it builds out the charging network statewide by funding the installation of charging stations in apartments, homes and city centers — wherever needed to complement existing infrastructure. Third, Proposition 30 helps replace medium- and heavy-duty vehicles with zero-emissions alternatives, supporting businesses and municipalities as they replace old school buses, trucks, construction equipment and agricultural vehicles. And because not everyone travels by car, the proposition also increases support for zero-emissions public transit like electric buses.
A second major source of air pollutants is wildfires, and Proposition 30 provides a sustained investment in fire prevention and forest management. From hiring new firefighters to supplementing the state’s overstretched forces to making investments in home hardening and creating defensible spaces, Proposition 30 provides consistent resources over time to tackle this generational crisis.
As we transition to a clean energy economy, we can’t leave hard-working families behind. Between jobs building and installing charging equipment, manufacturing zero-emission vehicles and historic investments in firefighting staff, Proposition 30 represents one of California’s most promising opportunities to create high-paying, green, union jobs in a growing industry. Proposition 30 invests heavily in green jobs and quality construction careers so that as we make California a healthier place to live, we also make California an affordable place to live.
Climate change is one of our most complex challenges, but Proposition 30 gives us the tools and technology we need to reduce greenhouse gases, keep our communities safe from wildfires and ensure that the next generation has clean air to breathe.