Students and other activists rallied on the historic Sproul Steps at UC Berkeley on Earth Day to support the California Modernization and Economic Development Act, a proposed 2014 ballot measure. The California Modernization and Economic Development Act (CMED) places a 9.5% tax on the oil and gas that's extracted from California, and would bring in over $2 billion of new revenue for the state. $1.2 billion would be allocated in four equal parts towards K-12, California Community Colleges, California State University and the University of California. Another $400 million would be used to provide businesses with subsidies for switching to cleaner forms of energy, and $300 million would be allocated for city and park infrastructure. "We want to demonstrate that students are willing to fight and vote for a bill in 2014 that consists of a complete package of investments for their future," said Sera Tajima, Outreach Director for the campaign. "The fact of the matter is 2014 is an off-year election. If the Democrats are looking for a ballot initiative that will encourage student and under 30 turnout to maintain the Supermajority, CMED is the best candidate," Tajima added.
The announcement of the campaign comes on the heels of the California Democratic Convention, where environmental activist and philanthropist Thomas Steyer spent a great deal of time talking about the need for an extraction tax. Though he did not specify a proposal he planned on backing, he did not rule out a ballot initiative if the California Senate and Assembly do not act.
The bill has already attracted the attention and support from a wide variety of interest groups and individuals, and touts a growing list of endorsements on their website (www.cmedact.org/endorsements
). In February, former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich endorsed CMED, stating "a tax on oil extracted from California to help finance the education of Californians should be a no-brainer. It won't affect fuel prices. It will only improve our schools. The real question is why hasn't California done this long before now?"
Since then, the group has received enthusiastic support from several environmental advocacy groups, including the Community Food and Justice Coalition, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Sustainable Marin and San Rafael, and Citizen's Climate Lobby in addition to the bills strong student and education base.
Dr. Daniel Kammen, Nobel Prize recipient and co-author of Prop 87 (a similar measure on the 2006 ballot), wholeheartedly endorsed the proposal and is playing a crucial role in qualifying the proposed measure. “Placing a small surcharge on in-state production benefits the state dramatically, spurring innovation on the producer side to reduce costs, and bringing in funds that are critically needed to green the economy, re-invest in education, and meet basic needs. California is at the forefront of the clean energy revolution, and has profited from this process. The California Modernization and Economic Development Act is absolutely needed.”
Senator Noreen Evans D-Santa Rosa, author of Senate Bill 241, has come out in support of CMED stating, "The California Modernization and Economic Development Act closes a glaring corporate tax loophole in California that has benefited big oil for far too long. "I absolutely support efforts that will allow California to collect on these vast and irreplaceable natural resource revenues that should fund one of the most important core services of government-education. It's past time California ends the oil industry's free ride and finally sets a solid revenue stream towards funding government's education obligations."