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Newsom, a Leader on Climate, Fights a Lyft-Backed Electric Vehicle Measure – The New York Times

by Nov 6, 2022Blog0 comments

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The ballot initiative would increase taxes on the wealthiest Californians to subsidize electric vehicle programs.
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One of California’s November ballot measures has made for some strange political bedfellows.
On one side, environmentalists have teamed up with firefighters, Democrats and Lyft, the ride-share company, which has poured more than $45 million into its campaign to pass a climate initiative. On the other, Gov. Gavin Newsom has aligned himself with California billionaires, teachers and Republicans in opposition.
The focus of the unlikely coalitions: Proposition 30, a ballot measure known as the Clean Cars and Clean Air Act, which asks California voters whether to raise the personal income tax by 1.75 percent on those making more than $2 million per year, in order to pay for electric vehicle programs and help fight wildfires.
Proponents say the measure would raise money from those who can afford it to fund critical state mandates on electric vehicle sales and ride-share miles that have been highly promoted but not fully funded. Opponents argue it would require taxpayers to foot the bill for electric vehicle subsidies that Uber and Lyft would eventually have to pay for on their own.
In August, California regulators voted to ban the sale of all gasoline-powered cars in the state by 2035, which was hailed by environmentalists — and by Newsom — as a significant step in combating climate change. Last year, the state implemented an even earlier standard for ride-share companies like Lyft and Uber: 90 percent of ride-share drivers’ miles will have to be in electric vehicles by 2030.
Left out of those mandates was an explanation of who would be expected to pay for the switch to greener cars. Despite a federal tax credit, battery-powered vehicles are still prohibitively expensive for many drivers, especially gig drivers who often struggle to make ends meet.
Proposition 30 would generate $3.5 billion to $5 billion each year, according to the state legislative analyst’s office, with most of that going toward helping people, businesses and governments buy electric vehicles and toward installing more vehicle charging stations. The emphasis would be on help for low-income communities and those living in heavily polluted areas. Transportation accounts for about 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the state, according to the California Air Resources Board.
Stuart Cohen, one of the transit and environmental activists who helped craft the measure, called it “transformative.”
“This measure would dramatically accelerate the transition” to electric vehicles “so that we can actually get rid of internal combustion by 2035, like the state hopes,” said Cohen, the founder of TransForm, a transit advocacy group.
The opposition to the measure, which includes some of the wealthy individuals who would have to pay more in taxes and business groups opposed to tax increases, argues that the proposal benefits corporations, because Uber and Lyft would eventually have to comply with the new state electric vehicle mandates and would have to cough up the money to do so on their own, most likely by offering subsidies for their drivers to buy battery-powered cars.
The “no” campaign got a huge boost over the summer from Newsom, who, despite his focus on fighting climate change, has emerged as its highest-profile opponent and appeared in an television advertisement attacking Lyft in September.
“Prop. 30 is being advertised as a climate initiative,” Newsom says in the ad as he strolls across the screen. “But in reality, it was devised by a single corporation, to funnel state income taxes to benefit their company.”
Newsom’s influence could swing the race. Likely voters favored the proposition by 55 percent to 40 percent in a September poll from the Public Policy Institute of California, but a new poll released last week by the institute found just 41 percent of likely voters in support, with 52 percent opposed.
Dan Newman, a spokesman for the governor, said there were other methods for combating climate change. In September, Newsom signed a climate package that includes $10 billion for the transition to electric vehicles.
“There are better, more thoughtful ways that are already underway of hastening that transition, and doing it without raising taxes,” Newman said.
Lyft declined to comment but pointed to a September blog post by Logan Green, a company co-founder and its chief executive, in which he urged voters to support Prop. 30 to help address pollution and climate change. Lyft also sent an email blast to its customers in October advocating for the measure.
Critics argue that Newsom is catering to top-dollar donors and other wealthy individuals by opposing the measure. Among the top contributors to the “no” campaign are Reed Hastings, the chief executive of Netflix; Michael Moritz, a partner at the venture firm Sequoia Capital; John Fisher, the owner of the Oakland A’s; William Oberndorf, who helped fund the recall of Chesa Boudin, the San Francisco district attorney; and Bobby Kotick, the chief executive of Activision Blizzard.
Newman said that was an “offensive, absurd argument.”
Other groups have weighed in, too. The California Teachers Association opposes Prop. 30 because it would circumvent a state law that requires a portion of new income tax revenue to go toward education. Cal Fire Local 2881, a union for the state’s firefighters, supports it because it would allocate 20 percent of the revenue for hiring more firefighters and other methods for preventing wildfires, another major source of pollution.
For more:
A guide to California’s seven ballot propositions.
In MAGA-led Shasta County, election apprehension reigns.
Which California House races to watch in this election.
Joan Didion: Hundreds of Joan Didion’s furnishings and personal items will be sold at auction this month, offering fans the opportunity to acquire a piece of her legacy. The items paint a picture of her life.
Midterms: President Biden is making his second trip to California in less than three weeks in hopes of bolstering Democratic House members, The Associated Press reports.
Jaywalking: Los Angeles pedestrians look forward to a relaxed jaywalking law.
Homelessness: Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that he would withhold $1 billion in state homelessness funding from cities and counties because he said local governments were failing to get people off the streets fast enough, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Pelosi attack: Six days after sustaining a fractured skull in a vicious attack, Paul Pelosi has been discharged from the hospital.
Plus, the Canadian man accused of attacking Pelosi with a hammer and trying to kidnap his wife, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, had been living in the United States with an expired immigration status for years.
Snow: The tail end of the season’s first significant storm dropped up to five inches of snow on Southern California mountains, The Associated Press reports.
Los Angeles mayor’s race: Why won’t Newsom back Representative Karen Bass or Rick Caruso?
Glacier erasure: Major glaciers across the world, including those in Yosemite National Park, will be gone by 2050 even if global greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, NBC Bay Area reports.
Santa Clara County sheriff: A civil jury found Laurie Smith, a former Santa Clara County sheriff, guilty of six corruption and willful misconduct charges, San Jose Spotlight reports.
Hastings name change: A lawsuit that aims to block the renaming of the University of California Hastings College of the Law violates the San Francisco school’s free speech rights, Reuters reports.
Chile crisp fettuccine Alfredo with spinach.
Today’s tip comes from Beth Dodge Weaver, who recommends a visit to Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland: “The cemetery was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and is a beautiful place to walk and reflect. Many prominent Bay Area families have monuments there, so a bit of local history as well.”
P.S.: The cemetery, which dates to the 1800s, also made The Times’s itinerary for a 36-hour trip to Oakland.
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
Have you visited any of the travel destinations that we’ve recommended in the newsletter? Send us a few lines about your trip and a photo!
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Lorna Brownlie immediately felt at ease as she petted Cooper, a 13-year-old rescue poodle, while she waited to deliver her baby.
“I went from panicked to being in the hospital to, now this is nice to calm down and have a little bit of company,” Brownlie told The Mercury News. “It’s soothing. It distracts you a little bit from thoughts in your mind and the week you’ve been through.”
Brownlie was one of the first patients to enjoy a therapeutic canine visit last month after Santa Clara Medical Center restarted its dog therapy program, which began 20 years ago but had been suspended for much of the pandemic.
Cooper’s owner, Sandi Kane, told the newspaper that her poodle’s restorative power was gratifying. “I see people light up when we walk through the hall — the doctors, the nurses, the staff and then the patients, everybody,” she said. “It puts them into a whole different mind-set — I call them magical moments for everybody.”
Thanks for reading. We’ll be back on Monday.
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.
Soumya Karlamangla and Briana Scalia contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at
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