California voters said no to taxing the rich to make EVs more affordable

California voters on Tuesday rejected a ballot measure that would have raised taxes on the state’s wealthiest residents to accelerate the sales of electric cars, particularly for low-income residents.

The measure, Proposition 30, was meant to help the Golden State meet its aggressive clean air and climate change ambitions. Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US. In August, California’s Air Resources Board cemented a ban on the sales of gasoline and diesel cars by 2035. The state passed a law in September that requires it to cut its emissions 40 percent relative to 1990 levels by 2030 and zero out its contributions to climate change by 2045. Legislators also approved close to $54 billion to fund climate change adaptation and mitigation.

“There is just no feasible path to meeting our climate, air quality, and equity goals without zeroing out tailpipe pollution,” said Max Baumhefner, a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the groups backing Prop 30.

To help meet this goal, Prop 30 aimed to subsidize electric cars, charging stations, and fund wildfire protection. The money was slated to come from a 1.75 percent tax on incomes above $2 million. Advocates estimated that it would raise $100 billion over 20 years, with more than half of the money earmarked for low-income and disadvantaged communities. The vote came on the anniversary of the 2018 Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state’s history.

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