Californians support wealth tax to fund electric vehicles that Newsom opposes, poll shows

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July 28, 2022, 4:58 PM

Californians show initial support for a ballot measure that would tax wealthy residents to fund clean air initiatives, and they support state environmental policy-making over national efforts, a new poll shows.

The Public Policy Institute of California and Ipsos polled more than 1,600 residents throughout the state in mid-July about a broad range of environmental issues and policymaking. The results show most Californians back state efforts to combat climate change but are concerned about the ongoing drought, wildfires and fuel costs.

“Eight in ten Californians say that climate change is a very or somewhat serious threat to California’s future economy and quality of life,” PPIC reported. “A strong majority favors the state government making its own policies, separate from the federal government, to address climate change. Support for the state’s climate change policies is deeply divided along party lines.”

Early support for wealth tax ballot measure

About three months before the November election, 63% of likely voters favor Proposition 30, a ballot measure that would add a 1.75% income tax on residents earning more than $2 million per year, with the money going to fund zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure and firefighting efforts.

Democrats and Republicans are sharply divided on the ballot measure. About 83% of Democrats favor Proposition 30, while just 26% of Republicans support it.

Rideshare app Lyft is heavily funding the campaign to pass Proposition 30, as California law requires the company to transition to nearly all electric vehicles by 2030.

However, Gov. Gavin Newsom recently came out against the ballot measure, calling it a “special interest carve-out.”

“California’s tax revenues are famously volatile, and this measure would make our state’s finances more unstable — all so that special interests can benefit,” Newsom said. “Prop. 30 is fiscally irresponsible and puts the profits of a single corporation ahead of the welfare of the entire state.”

Mark Baldassare, PPIC CEO, cautioned against reading too much into the poll results because they “measure early support for the concept behind Proposition 30, not the proposition itself.”

“Still, the results are consistent with the solid support and partisan divisions on climate change reflected in our July survey — and are a harbinger of things to come in what is likely to be a lively debate about state climate policy,” Baldassare said in a blog post.

Tourists take photographs of the state Capitol in Sacramento on the brown grass of the Capitol grounds in 2014. Most Californians think state and local leaders need to do more to respond to the ongoing drought, according to a Public Policy Institute of California survey.

Voters back state climate change initiatives

Californians also support the state’s efforts to make its own climate change policies, and very few survey participants approved of Congress’s environmental policymaking.

About 68% of likely voters “favor the state government making its own policies, separate from the federal government, to address the issue of climate change.” However, just 25% of Republicans support California’s environment politics, while 89% of Democrats favor them.

Newsom’s plan to ban fracking by 2024 has support from 61% of likely voters, with 79% of Democrats backing the policy and just 21% of Republicans in favor.

The governor’s proposal to ban sales of new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035 is somewhat less popular. About 49% of likely voters favor the policy, with support from 70% of Democrats and only 12% of Republicans.

That’s probably because less than half of Californians — 49% of adults — have considered buying an electric vehicle, the poll showed.

Overall, most Californians support how Newsom and the Legislature are handling environmental issues. About 59% of residents in July 2022 favored the governor’s approach, and 55% supported the Legislature.

Those numbers are down slightly from July 2020, when 69% supported Newsom’s policies and 62% backed the Legislature’s environmental stances.

Far fewer Californians support how President Joe Biden and Congress are handling environmental issues on a national scale.

About 49% of likely California voters favor Biden’s climate policies, and only 18% of likely voters approve of Congress’s environmental stances.

The PPIC conducted the poll before federal lawmakers reached a tentative agreement this week to pass a $369 billion climate change and tax package with money to promote clean energy sources.

“Approval was higher among adults (35%) and likely voters (28%) a year ago, but majorities have disapproved since 2011,” the survey reported. “Strong majorities across political parties disapprove of Congress on this issue, and about six in ten or more across regions and across demographic groups disapprove.”

Rice farmer Don Bransford walks past a dry ditch that usually brings water to his 1,800 acres of rice fields near Williams in May. Many Californians are concerned about the state’s water supply and don’t think enough is being done to respond to the ongoing drought, according to a Public Policy Institute of California survey.

Many Californians want better drought response

Even though Californians support state environmental policies, many residents think leaders need to improve their response to the ongoing drought.

About 75% of likely voters think state and local governments are not doing enough to tackle the drought, and 72% of likely voters say “the people in their part of the state are not doing enough to respond to the current drought.”

The California State Water Resources Control Board climate and conservation manager resigned in July, saying he doesn’t think Newsom’s administration is doing enough to combat the drought and climate change, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Nearly all of California is experiencing drought conditions, with large chunks of the state in the midst of extreme and exceptional droughts, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Newsom has been asking for voluntary water cutbacks of 15% since July 2021. However, the State Water Resources Control Board in May reported per-capita urban water usage went up 7% in March compared to the previous year.

Most adults say they’ve made at least some efforts to cut back on their water use, with 45% saying they’ve “done a lot” to reduce their consumption, according to the PPIC poll.

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