Proposition 39 Absentee Ballot Results: Voters Torn Over $550 Million Yearly for Green Projects, Higher Tax on Business

Proposition 39 Absentee Ballot Results: Voters Torn Over $550 Million Yearly for Green Projects, Higher Tax on Business

Update: Prop. 39 surged ahead as precincts began reporting from around California. See next page for more.

Early returns show California voters almost evenly split on Proposition 39, which the fiar-minded, non-partisan California Legislative Analyst's Office says could pour up to $1 billion into state coffers -- and could lead to as many as 40,000 jobs in construction and "clean" energy.

Continue Reading

This ballot measure was cleverly crafted to appeal to Californians' love of green jobs and post-recession distrust of big business. Many voters had no idea what the measure really said, but liked Yes on 39 because it had "something" to do with taxing multi-state businesses and "something" to do with green energy. Yet tonight's early returns are a shocker: just 51.1 percent Yes, 48.9 percent No.

The big draw here is supposed to be that, for the first five years of this law, $550 million in tax hikes on businesses -- about half of the total take -- will go to creating "energy efficiency and clean energy jobs." Mostly to modernizing, insulating and greening California public buildings.

Then, poof!

After five years the green money-train ends -- and the money gets eaten up God knows where in the vast California state budget.

Proponents say it isn't a "tax hike," it's just closing a tax loophole. But let's face it: the billions will flow in because the measure changes a 2009 law designed to attract businesses during the recession. If voters approve Prop. 39, out-of-state businesses will be forced to calculate their state income taxes based on the percentage of their actual sales in California. They'll pay a lot more in taxes.

For many, if Prop. 39 is approved tonight, the real question is "Will state officials set up a competent bureaucracy to spend all that money on green energy and energy efficiency?"

Or -- horrible shivers and sick feeling in the stomach here -- will Sacramento leaders set up a Green Franken-authority like the California High Speed Rail Authority, which for years was led by political appointees who hadn't a clue what they were doing?

Look how the bullet train, which began as a very popular ballot measure in 2008, has turned out:

A key USC poll a couple of months ago showed that the vast majority of Californians would vote No on high speed rail, if given another chance.

Update: With 15.3% of statewide precincts reporting, this measure is winning big with 59 percent Yes and 41 percent No.


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories