Tom Steyer

Why I Support Prop 39


One of the first questions I get asked on the campaign trail about Prop 39 is about why I’m putting so much energy behind this initiative. Let me explain why I’m so passionate about ending a corporate tax loophole.

First, it’s a question of tax fairness. This should, on paper, be a no brainer. It should pass without a vote against it. Because not a single California company or citizen will pay more taxes if Prop 39 passes. Not one.

This corporate loophole only helps out-of-state companies. Nobody else. It saves them just over a billion dollars per year in taxes. On top of that, it is powerful incentive for them not to hire Californians.

I can understand why out-of-state companies are against Prop 39. And why they hired powerful lobbyists to create this corporate loophole and get it passed during midnight high-jinks of the waning days of a legislative session.

But why does the California Manufacturers and Technology Association oppose it? There can be only one reason: their heavy funding from businesses beyond our borders who will finally have to pay their fair share of taxes.

The other reason I’m in this is my commitment to moving California’s economy forward. The way we’ve designed Prop 39 is to take the $1.1 billion that these out-of-state companies are paying and devoting it to the two things that will immediately help our economy. And that is education and energy efficiency.

I don’t need to spend any time convincing you that our schools need more resources. That’s another slam dunk.

But we also have a huge opportunity in California in strengthening our lead as the world leader in energy efficiency and what I like to call “advanced energy.” We already are one of the most energy efficient states in the nation, and the magnet for billions of investments in clean tech. But other states — and other nations — are making their move on us.

Prop 39 takes half of the $1.1 billion we’ll collect from closing the out-of-state loophole and puts it into energy efficiency projects like schools and government buildings. Even the most conservative California taxpayer should applaud that. Because it will mean fewer tax dollars going to heating and cooling bills. And it will create jobs — according to the LAO, tens of thousands of them.

After five years, all of the money will go to the state’s General Fund to help reduce our deficit. It’s win-win-win.

For me, it’s that simple. Prop 39 provides us with an opportunity to energize our economy, keep California’s businesses competitive, and pave a path toward a sustainable energy future.

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About Tom Steyer

Tom Steyer is the founder and co-managing partner of Farallon Capital Management and chairman for Yes on Proposition 39, which seeks to close a tax loophole for out-of-state corporations and create jobs in California. In 2010, Steyer teamed with former Secretary of State George Shultz to defeat California’s Proposition 23, an effort by out-of-state oil companies to dismantle California’s groundbreaking clean energy law, AB 32.

Steyer and his wife, Kat Taylor, joined Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates and other high-wealth Americans in the “Giving Pledge,” a promise to donate the majority of their wealth to charitable and nonprofit activities during their lifetimes. He has created a number of nonprofits including Advanced Energy Economy and the Center for the Next Generation; served as a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 2004 and 2008, and is a board member of the Center for American Progress. Tom graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Yale and received his MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

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