SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A ballot initiative that would have raised taxes on California millionaires and billionaires to fund public health programs and pandemic prevention is dead — at least for this year.
The Silicon Valley tech executives who bankrolled the measure, which had been targeted for the November ballot, said they aren’t giving up on their goal of creating the strongest state public health system in the country. But they acknowledge covid-19 is no longer top of mind for most Americans.
“Our goal was to capture people’s acute attention on the pandemic to get something done — but there are economic problems and it looks like we’re headed for a recession, so things got more complicated,” said Max Henderson, the startup investor and former Google executive spearheading the campaign. “People are expressing rising skepticism over higher taxes, and the economy is dominating the hearts and minds of the electorate.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom never publicly supported the initiative. For Henderson and the other tech entrepreneurs pushing the measure, moving forward appeared too risky without support from Newsom and a broad coalition that includes state lawmakers and powerful health and business groups.
The initiative would have imposed an additional tax “at the rate of 0.75 percent on that portion of a taxpayer’s taxable income” that exceeds $5 million. It would generate as much as $15 billion over 10 years, according to a state government analysis of the measure.
Even though …