California Voters: What You Need to Know About Important State Ballot Initiatives
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What People Are Saying
Prop 37 has a huge amount of support, unless you're Monsanto or a high-roller with the biotech and pesticide industries or corporations like PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, General Mills, Nestle, Del Monte, Kellogg and Hershey, to name a few. Big Food and Big Ag have teamed up big time to try and defeat Prop 37, pouring more than $36 million into the fight. Their big money (and misleading TV ads, featuring Henry I. Miller, frontman for Big Oil and Big Tobacco) have caused this initiative to go from slamdunk-win to toss-up in a matter of a month.
A recent piece on AlterNet debunks six big lies put forth by Monsanto and friends on the proposition.
But the proposition is not just about what's in our food; it's a referendum on the state of our political affairs. As Ari LeVaux wrote on AlterNet, "More than anything, if the last two weeks are any indication, this campaign is shaping up to be about the place of money in politics and the power of television marketing."
Whose Side Are You On?
The Yes on 37 Right to Know Campaign is supported by:
Most of the major health, faith, labor, environmental and consumer groups in California, including the California Nurses Association, California Democratic Party, California Labor Federation, United Farm Workers, American Public Health Association, Consumers Union, California Council of Churches IMPACT, Sierra Club, Whole Foods Market, Natural Resources Defense Council, Organic Consumers Association, Center for Food Safety, Consumer Federation of America, Pesticide Action Network, Center for Food Safety, Environmental Working Group, Breast Cancer Fund, Mercola Health Resources, Public Citizen, MoveOn and Food Democracy Now!
On the other side, here's a breakdown of the biggest spenders against Prop 37 and how much they've tossed in to the pot:
- Monsanto: $7,100,500
- DuPont: $4,900,000
- BASF: $2,000,000
- Bayer: $2,000,000
- DOW: $2,000,000
- Pepsi: $1,716,300
- Coca-Cola: $1,164,446
- Nestle: $1,169,400
- ConAgra Foods: $1,076,700
- Syngenta: $1,000,000
Proposition 39: Tax Treatment for Multistate Businesses. Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Funding. Initiative Statute.
Official Overview From the Secretary of State:
- Requires multistate businesses to calculate their California income tax liability based on the percentage of their sales in California.
- Repeals existing law giving multistate businesses an option to choose a tax liability formula that provides favorable tax treatment for businesses with property and payroll outside California.
- Dedicates $550 million annually for five years from anticipated increase in revenue for the purpose of funding projects that create energy efficiency and clean energy jobs in California.
In a Nutshell
"Multistate businesses would have to pay their income tax based on what percentage of their sales are in California," sums up KQED. "A company that sells one-quarter of its product here would pay income tax on one-quarter of total profit. Companies would no longer have a tax incentive to keep their California staff small."
It would also generate and estimated $1 billion annually, and for the first five years, half of that money would go into a Clean Energy Job Creation Fund, the rest goes to the general fund.
What People Are Saying
This may not be such a clear-cut proposition. The L.A. Times reports, "Polling on Prop. 39 indicates weak voter support and general confusion" and "The driving force behind Prop. 39 is hedge-fund billionaire Thomas F. Steyer of San Francisco, a Democratic donor and environmentalist."
But the Times explains:
Prop. 39 would treat all corporations the same, basing a company's tax solely on its in-state sales.
"We're trying to close a tax loophole that advantages out-of-state companies at the expense of California citizens," Steyer says.