Prop 39 Funds Clean Energy, Efficiency in CA

Tom Steyer, Prop 39, clean energy, energy efficiency projects Tom Steyer, a SF venture capitalist, largely funded the successful effort to pass California Proposition 39.

California's least noticed tax initiative got passed overwhelmingly Tuesday – and two big beneficiaries are clean energy and energy efficiency.

California Proposition 39 closes a multi-state business tax loophole. The proposition is expected to raise $1 billion a year and to create up to 40,000 new jobs in California, according to the state's Legislative Analyst's Office.

Profits will be split 50-50, with half awarded to energy efficiency and clean energy projects in California's public buildings and half slated for the state's general fund. After five years, all the money will go to the general fund.

The initiative eliminates one of the formulas that multi-state corporations can use to calculate their California taxes. That leaves the single-sales factor formula, which will raise state taxes on those companies. Anti-tax groups complained the move would make California less business-friendly.

But clean-energy groups praised the Proposition 39 win.

"California voters not only modernized the state's corporate tax structure by passing Prop 39, they indicated their strong support for renewable energy," said Carrie Cullen Hitt, vice president for state affairs at The Solar Energy Industries Association, adding that the proposition would encourage related investment over the next five years.

The campaign to pass Proposition 39 was largely funded by Tom Steyer, a hedge fund manager who poured almost $30 million into the campaign to pass the measure and threatened to call out any corporation that opposed it. As a result, California Proposition 39 had no organized opposition and easily passed with 60 percent approval.