Who is spending what on California ballot measures?
August 11, 2016
A total of 17 statewide initiatives are on the November ballot, marking the most measures on a single ballot in California since March 2000. As of early August, donors have contributed almost $200 million to ballot measure campaigns. [LA Times]
Thus far, the pharmaceutical and tobacco companies are the leading spenders among business sectors. The pharmaceutical industry is trying to fight off restrictions on state spending on drugs, while tobacco companies are trying to defeat a tax hike on cigarettes. Meanwhile, both California hospitals and teachers are backing the proposed extension of a tax hike.
Pharmaceutical companies are spending heavily in an attempt to defeat Proposition 61. The initiative would prohibit state agencies from paying more for prescription drugs than the lowest price that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pays.
The pharmaceutical industry has contributed more than $50 million this year to the campaign against Proposition 61. Of that total, more than $35 million has been reported since July 1.
Tobacco companies have spent nearly $36 million over the last two months in an attempt to defeat Proposition 56. The initiative would raise taxes on cigarettes by $2 a pack. The measure also calls for raising taxes on e-cigarettes and other tobacco products.
The tobacco industry spent more than $46 million in defeating a 2012 initiative that would have imposed a $1 a pack added tax on cigarettes. The ballot measure went down by fewer than 43,000 votes.
In July, California hospitals and the state’s largest teachers union gave a combined total of $22.5 million to the Proposition 55 campaign. Proposition 55 would extend the current income tax rates set by Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30.
The initiative would add 12 years to the life of the current tax rates on state residents making $250,000 or more, which are scheduled to expire in 2019. Proposition 55 states the revenue received from the tax extension must be used for education and healthcare programs.
Tech billionaire Sean Parker, the founder of Napster and former president of Facebook, has spent more than any individual on current ballot measure campaigns. Parker has contributed more than $3.7 million to the Proposition 64 campaign, the effort to legalize recreational use of marijuana. Parker has also donated $400,000 to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s initiative on combating gun violence through new registration rules for buying ammunition.
Coincidentally, very little money is pouring into a campaign calling for California elected officials to work toward overturning Citizens United, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that relaxed rules on corporate and labor political donations. The initiative, Proposition 59, is only an advisory measure.
Backers of Proposition 59 have only raised $10,000. No money has been spent on opposing the initiative.