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Tom and the People vs. Big Business
Tax Loopholes

For two years, ever since California Republicans slipped a huge tax loophole into a larger reform bill that passed in 2009, Democrats had been trying to repeal it. Republicans — pushed by corporate lobbyists — blocked them every time. Exasperated that big businesses were being rewarded for moving jobs out of California, Tom Steyer put a proposal on the ballot, so his home state’s people could do what their politicians wouldn’t.

His proposal made those out-of-state corporations pay their fair share of California taxes and guaranteed that the money would go to stimulating the state’s economy, creating good jobs, and addressing the climate crisis.

The plan went on the 2012 ballot as Proposition 39, or the Income Tax Increase for Multistate Businesses Initiative. Tom co-chaired the grassroots campaign and contributed $30 million to get it passed, backed by a diverse, bipartisan coalition that he helped assemble.  Prop 39 passed in a landslide with 61 percent of the vote.

“I closed a corporate tax loophole for a billion dollars and gave the money to public schools.”
─ Tom Steyer

Closing the loophole generated nearly 20,000 jobs in California, and put $1.7 billion toward necessary energy efficiency projects in the state’s schools, including heating and insulation upgrades, and solar panel installation. In total, Tom’s proposal generated over $2 billion in new revenue through mid-2018. Not only was this a big win for the climate, but it was also a strong check against corporate interests interfering in politics.

Kate Gordon, a climate and energy expert who oversaw the green projects and now works for California’s governor, says the program was unique because of Tom’s background, combining deep knowledge of finance and tax structure with “a passion for climate and clean energy outcomes.” She adds, “I don’t think a lot of people would have seen that loophole as a source for this kind of program.”

Ultimately, Tom’s plan created thousands of good jobs, renovated public schools, reduced power needs, saved on energy costs, improved education with more teachers, fought poverty by training people for stable careers, and more. Tom believes in putting all the details before the American people and trusting them with the truth — and that’s how he’s running his campaign for president. He will break the corporate stranglehold on our government, and enact the structural reforms we need to save our democracy.