The $23.1 million disparity between the Yes on 39 campaign ($23.2 million) and the no campaign ($45,000), according to Ballotpedia, is an anomaly this election season. Proposition 39 is the only proposition with no centralized opposition.
Proposition 39, also known as the California Clean Energy Jobs Act, and proposes that businesses headquartered outside of California calculate their tax liability based solely on their sales within the state. The California Legislative Analyst has calculated that the initiative will create $1 billion in new revenue and create 40,000 green energy jobs.
The Yes on 39 effort is led by Thomas Steyer, who has contributed over $21 million of his own money to the campaign effort. Steyer is the founder of Farallon Capital Management LLC., helped fund the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy at Stanford University, and has signed the Giving Pledge along with Warren Buffett to donate half of their fortunes to charity. The largest donors against Proposition 39, are General Motors and Kimberly-Clarke who have contributed $20,000 each. Kimberly-Clarke is the maker of Kleenex and other paper-based consumer products.
Although there has been no cohesive effort in the form of a “No on 39” campaign, various media outlets across the state have come out against the proposition.
The Orange County Register has called the proposition “complicated” and asserted that it would “punish companies with higher taxes and consequently their customers with higher prices, discouraging hiring in California.”
A common theme amongst many of the opposition pieces was the contention that the $1 billion in revenue will be wrongly funneled into green energy projects and jobs, areas that are not vital candidates for additional funding.
San Diego’s Union Tribune remarked, “The measure would devote half the new revenue, up to $550 million, to alternative energy and energy efficiency projects. These areas are already getting billions of dollars in federal funding, sometimes with horrible track records.” Other newspapers that have come out against Proposition 39 include the Los Angeles Daily News, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Yes on 39 campaign has taken a much different approach to lobbying for the tax reform. Yes on 39 shows heavy involvement in social media as well as in newspaper advertising, with television ads in the works. Unsurprisingly, a recent poll by California Business Roundtable found 60% of 830 people polled are in favor of the proposition and 25% are opposed. The Proposition 39 opposition campaign has raised only 0.19% of their ballot counterpart. Whatever the case may be, the No on Proposition 39 campaign is one of a kind.