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California voters reject tax-the-rich measure for electric cars

Rivian R1T electric vehicle pickup truck.Jamie Kelter Davis/Bloomberg

California voters rejected a measure that would have levied an additional tax on millionaires to raise money for climate-related programs.

About 57 percent of voters opposed Proposition 30, according to the Associated Press, with roughly 33 percent of the votes counted Tuesday evening. The measure, backed by rideshare company Lyft Inc., called for a 1.75 percent tax on income above $2 million to help Californians fund electric vehicles, build charging stations and hire firefighters for wildfires.

The proposition proved divisive among California’s business leaders and split Democrats in the heavily liberal state. Governor Gavin Newsom, who won re-election to a second term on Tuesday night, opposed the measure and spent his own campaign funds on ads speaking out against it. He called Proposition 30 a corporate carve-out benefiting Lyft, which is facing a state mandate that 90 percent of rideshare vehicles be electric by 2030.

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The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated that the new tax would have raised $3.5 billion to $5 billion annually, but would have been subject to volatility given that the high-income residents’ fortunes fluctuate with the stock market and economy. About 35,000 California taxpayers would face the higher rate, according to an argument for the measure.

Uncertainty about the outcome was reflected in the USC Schwarzenegger Institute-USC Price poll released last week, which showed voters were divided about evenly on the measure and within the margin of error.