On Wednesday the Assembly and Senate revenue and tax committees held a joint hearing to discuss Proposition 26.
The “Polluter Protection Act” as it’s been termed by the opposition, is an initiative funded almost completely by big oil and tobacco companies looking to sidestep responsibility for the pollution they cause. Essentially this proposition has been designed to let major corporations off the hook, instead forcing taxpayers to pay to clean up the pollution or address the negative health impacts these corporations are currently responsible for.
The Planning and Conservation League joined a large coalition of environmental organizations, health advocates, public safety and other constituent groups all voicing their opposition at the September 29th hearing. From the beginning, the hearing couldn’t have gone much better for those challenging the initiative. The Legislative Analysis Office (LAO) started with an overview of the measure, detailing the grave effects it would have if passed. LAO pointedly noted that should this proposition pass, it is likely the state General Fund’s costs would increase by $1 billion almost immediately with an increase of up to $11 billion over the next ten years.
Following the LAO’s scathing analysis of the initiative, the proponents of Prop 26 spoke, including John Dunlap, former Air Resources Board Chairman, and Michael Falasco, Director of California State Relations for the Wine Institute. However, that was it for support. All other supporters decided to sit out the hearing, including Prop 26 co-chair, the California Chamber of Commerce, whose absence was duly noted by committee chair Assemblymember Portantino. Dunlap and Falasco were forced to try to defend the measure in the face of overwhelming criticism and fielded tough questions from both Assemblymember Portantino and committee co-chair, Senator Wolk.
The opposition panel made up of Sierra Club California, the California Tax Reform Association, and the League of Cities, and every speaker who testified during the pubic comment period, further condemned the measure and illustrated just how disastrous Prop 26 would be for public health, our environment and our economy.
Traci Sheehan is the Executive Director of The Planning and Conservation League, a statewide, nonprofit lobbying organization. For more than thirty years, PCL has fought to develop a body of environmental laws in California that is the best in the United States.