Why Vote No on Proposition 26 (The Polluters Protection Act)? If Polluters Don’t Pay, Taxpayers Will

Big oil, tobacco, and liquor companies claim Prop 26 is about “taxpayer protection”—when in fact it’s the opposite. This proposition is a thinly veiled attempt to redefine clean up fees as taxes, shifting the financial burden onto taxpayers.

Since the industrial age began, dirty industries like paint and petroleum companies have made toxic messes, polluting our air, food and water and endangering our health.  Instead of taking responsibility and cleaning up their environmental messes, these companies are attempting to put the burden of paying for their toxic pollution on the taxpayer.  Chevron, ExxonMobil, Phillip Morris, and others have spent over $2 million to put Proposition 26 on the ballot in California to get themselves and other polluters off the hook and force taxpayers to pick up the tab instead.

Unbelievable!  Talk about a perversion of the democratic process.  If passed, Proposition 26 would change California’s Constitution so that fees used to address oil companies’ harmful effects on the environment would be redefined as taxes, a.k.a. a clear attempt to deceive people into paying to clean up corporate messes.  The Prop 26 campaign’s misleading ads claim that Prop 26 will “stop hidden taxes on food, beverages..” and-ahem–“other services” (read: oil).  They just conveniently forget to mention one thing–those “hidden taxes” are fees that these polluting industries have to pay–not anyone else.

In fact, with Proposition 26 in place, it’d be much more difficult to hold big companies responsible for the harm they do.  It would be almost impossible to levy fees on pesticides, gas, recyclables, used tires and carbon emissions that threaten our health and the health of the environment.

According to the independent, Non-Partisan Legislative Analyst, Prop 26 would cost the state of California an additional $1 billion every year (pg. 9).  This would mean billions more in cuts to education, health, and public safety in the state.  If Prop 26 passed, it would cost the state $11 billion over the next 10 years, leading to even deeper cuts to education, public safety, health care, environmental protection, and other essential services.

As the League of Women Voters of California states, “Prop 26 is a bait-and-switch by the oil, alcohol, and tobacco industries, in which they are trying to deceive voters into thinking this is about taxes, when it’s really about manufacturers of hazardous products protecting their own bottom lines”.