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.