By Levi Sumagaysay
Ride-hailing company Lyft was a prominent supporter of Prop. 30
In a loss for ride-hailing giant Lyft Inc., the Democratic party, environmental groups and others, Californians on Tuesday night rejected a ballot measure that would have imposed additional taxes on the wealthy to help fund the state's electric-vehicle infrastructure.
With about 95% of the state's votes counted Wednesday morning, Proposition 30 was losing by about 59% to 41%, according to the secretary of state's website.
Prop. 30 would have imposed a 1.75% tax on the personal income of California residents earning at least $2 million and used that revenue for zero-emission vehicle subsidies and electric-vehicle (EV) charging stations, and for programs to prevent and suppress wildfires.
Lyft (LYFT) was the biggest backer of the initiative, contributing more than $45 million of the approximately $48 million raised for the campaign. The ride-hailing giant has a direct interest in making sure California has a robust electric-vehicle infrastructure, because state rules mandate that 90% of ride-hailing miles be traveled in EVs by 2030.
"The election results are an unfortunate setback for the climate movement," a Lyft spokesman said Wednesday. "Millions were spent by the opposition to confuse and misguide voters, however we are undaunted ... we remain committed to achieving our collective climate goals."
The initiative was also supported by the Democratic party, public-health advocates and environmental, labor and firefighters' groups.
The ballot measure was opposed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom -- who opposed his own party -- and other prominent Californians, who portrayed it as a money grab by Lyft. Opponents of the initiative raised about $25 million. Among them are some well-known figures from the tech industry: Netflix co-Chief Executive Reed Hastings, who contributed $1 million; Sequoia Capital venture capitalist Michael Moritz, who donated $1.3 million; Intuit Inc. (INTU) co-founder Scott Cook, who contributed almost $1 million; and Zynga Chairman Mark Pincus, who contributed $964,000.
But a spokesman for the Prop. 30 campaign said Lyft would have received none of the money from the tax revenue, a point underscored by Lyft Chief Executive Logan Green, who said in a blog post: "We are committed to achieving 100% vehicle electrification regardless of Proposition 30's outcome."
The Prop. 30 campaign conceded late Tuesday, releasing a statement that read in part: "Polls showed that a majority of voters supported Prop. 30 until thirty of the richest people in the world spent tens of millions of dollars on lies and disinformation, aided by a governor who will be responsible for the consequences of its defeat: more catastrophic wildfires, more toxic air pollution, more carbon emissions and yet another reason for young voters to give up hope that we can solve problems together."
Nicole Moore, president of the Los Angeles-based Rideshare Drivers United, said Wednesday that Lyft's backing probably hurt the initiative, because the company "doesn't have a good reputation. It's known for rewriting labor laws."
Moore added that ride-hailing drivers, whom she said are mostly lower- and middle-income, "are not making enough money to buy a Tesla." She said the California rule mandates electrifying a fleet that Uber Technologies Inc. (UBER) and Lyft don't own because "drivers own the fleet."
Around the country, the California ballot measure was not the only one that sought to tax millionaires for public goals. Massachusetts voters appeared to be on their way to approving a 4% tax for households making more than $1 million that will fund education and infrastructure.
See: In midterm elections, voters in Massachusetts and California will decide whether millionaires should pay more tax
Also: Lyft lays off 13% of workers in second round of cuts this year
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 09, 2022 13:02 ET (18:02 GMT)
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