An environmental coalition led by hedge-fund manager Tom Steyer has filed a ballot initiative to raise $1.1 billion from out-of-state companies for schools and green building projects.
Steyer heads the Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs, a network of environmental and technology groups that defeated a 2010 ballot initiative that would have suspended the state's greenhouse-gas reduction law.
Under the proposal, the state would require businesses to calculate their taxes based solely on the proportion of sales they have in California compared to other states. Gov. Jerry Brown unsuccessfully sought that change in the Legislature this year, first as a budget balancing solution, then as a way to offer tax credits to small businesses and manufacturers.
The tax law proposal would largely fall on the backs of out-of-state companies who currently pay taxes based on a different formula that does not penalize them for maintaining workers and offices outside of California. Various groups have eyed the tax change this fall as a way to raise more than $1 billion annually.
Steyer is senior managing partner of San Francisco-based Farallon Capital Management. He contributed $5 million to the 2010 effort that opposed Proposition 23, the measure to suspend the state's greenhouse-gas emissions limit.
For the first five years, the Steyer measure would raise an estimated $1.1 billion each year, with $550 million going toward retrofitting of public and commercial buildings for energy efficiency, as well as job training in clean energy technology. The remaining funds would go toward the state's general fund, including more than $200 million for K-12 schools and community colleges.
After five years, the entire amount raised by the tax law change would go toward the state general fund budget.
"It closes an existing corporate tax loophole and uses the savings to create hundreds of thousands of construction jobs in California, all designed to jump start the economy," said Chris Lehane, a Democratic consultant working on the initiative.
Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs includes the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Natural Resources Defense Council and California League of Conservation Voters, among others. Lehane said coalition members must still go through their endorsement process once Attorney General Kamala Harris issues ballot language.
Item updated to clarify that coalition members still have to consider the measure through their endorsement process.