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: Millionaire tax to help fund EVs defeated in California

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In a loss for ride-hailing giant Lyft Inc., the Democratic party, environmental groups and others, Californians on Tuesday night rejected a ballot measure that would have imposed additional taxes on the wealthy to help fund the state’s electric-vehicle infrastructure.

With about 95% of the state’s votes counted Wednesday morning, Proposition 30 was losing about 59% to 41%,  according to the Secretary of State’s website.

Prop. 30 proposed to impose a 1.75% tax on the personal income of those earning at least $2 million and use that revenue for zero-emission vehicle subsidies and EV charging stations, plus wildfire-suppression and -prevention programs.

Lyft
LYFT,
-0.83%

was the biggest backer of the initiative, with more than $45 million in contributions out of the approximately $48 million raised for the campaign. The ride-hailing giant has a direct interest in making sure California has a robust electric-vehicle infrastructure. State rules mandate that 90% of ride-hailing miles take place in EVs by 2030.

The initiative was also supported by the Democratic party, environmental groups, labor, firefighters and public-health advocates.

The ballot measure was opposed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom — who opposed his own party — and other prominent Californians, who portrayed it as a money grab by Lyft. Opponents of the initiative raised about $25 million. Among them are some well-known figures from the tech industry: Netflix Co-Chief Executive Reed Hastings, who contributed $1 million; Sequoia Capital venture capitalist Michael Moritz, who donated $1.3 million; Intuit Inc.
INTU,
-2.49%

co-founder Scott Cook, who contributed almost $1 million; and Zynga Chairman Mark Pincus, who contributed $964,000.

But a spokesman for the Yes campaign has said Lyft will receive none of the money from the tax revenue, a point underscored by Lyft Chief Executive Logan Green, who in a blog post said: “We are committed to achieving 100% vehicle electrification regardless of Proposition 30’s outcome.”

The Prop. 30 campaign conceded late Tuesday, releasing a statement that said in part: “Polls showed that a majority of voters supported Prop. 30 until thirty of the richest people in the world spent tens of millions of dollars on lies and disinformation, aided by a governor who will be responsible for the consequences of its defeat: more catastrophic wildfires, more toxic air pollution, more carbon emissions and yet another reason for young voters to give up hope that we can solve problems together.”

Nicole Moore, president of Los Angeles-based Rideshare Drivers United, said Wednesday that Lyft’s backing probably hurt the initiative because the company “doesn’t have a good reputation. It’s known for rewriting labor laws.”

Moore added that ride-hailing drivers, whom she said are mostly lower- and middle-income, “are not making enough money to buy a Tesla.” She said the California rule mandates electrifying a fleet that Uber Technologies Inc.
UBER,
-3.46%

and Lyft don’t own because “drivers own the fleet.”

The California ballot measure was only one measure that sought to tax millionaires for public goals. Massachusetts voters also appeared to be on their way to approving a 4% tax for households making more than $1 million for education and infrastructure spending.

See: In midterm elections, voters in Massachusetts and California will decide whether millionaires should pay more tax

Also: Lyft lays off 13% of workers in second round of cuts this year

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