Ballot MeasuresTaxes

Beware Bahamian Billionaires Bearing Ballot Measures

A crypto billionaire who shelters his company from US taxes by housing it in the Bahamas is financing tax increase legislation in California. His name is Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) and his ballot measure would bypass the University of California to create a taxpayer-funded institute of his design to engage in pandemic research. In stark contrast, less egotistical Californians are working with the legislature to authorize an Immunology and Immunotherapy Institute at UCLA with seed capital from taxpayers and operational funding from NIH grants and charitable donations that, unlike non-deductible increased state tax payments forced by SBF’s measure, would be deductible against federal income taxes. Unlike SBF’s unaccountable institute, the UCLA institute would be accountable to UC Regents and unlike SBF’s tax structure, the UCLA institute would not jeopardize steady funding for public schools, healthcare, courts and social services.

Like Lyft’s self-serving ballot measure that likewise would jeopardize funding for schools and other services, SBF’s measure is another example of the ugly selfishness occasionally exhibited by rich corporations and individuals with access to California’s initiative process. Rather than submit their proposals to a legislature of elected representatives charged with the responsibility of governance and endowed with the time and tools to evaluate consequences through hearings and votes, these elitists jump to the front of the line and even if they don’t live in the state, pay state taxes, send their kids to public schools or rely on state health and social services. To add insult to injury, you can be sure they will hire the best of Madison Avenue to produce deceptive ads to get their way.

Defense of the general interest requires not only relentless attention to the legislature but also vigorous opposition to self-serving ballot measures. Opposition committees are being formed and tens of millions will be raised to defeat the measures. Your help will be required.