Tipping the Scales for Progressive Tax Reform

Eight years ago, a state initiative that would have expanded health coverage to a million more Californians — Prop 72 — lost by a razor-thin margin of 180,426 votes out of over 12.6 million votes cast.  It was the closest margin in a state ballot battle in the past 16 years. A small enough margin that could have been closed by organizing — phone calls and door knocking to turn out just 3,000 more votes in each California county.

At California Calls, our goal is to deliver this margin of victory for progressive tax and fiscal reform.  The November 2012 Schools and Local Public Safety Act would raise six to nine billion dollars for schools, health care, and local governments. It is a critical first step to closing the state’s budget deficit and slowing the legislature’s slash-and-cut trend of budget balancing. We plan on turning out a quarter million new and occasional voters in support of this initiative on Election Day, November 6th. Getting there requires a serious, strategic and sustained effort.

For three months, the organizations and grassroots leaders of California Calls have been in intensive training to make such a decisive impact in November. In March, more than 500 grassroots leaders fanned out across the state and surveyed 90,000 voters about the November revenue initiatives –the Our Children, Our Future initiative, Thomas Steyer’s Clean Energy Bill and theBrown-Millionaires Tax ballot measure.

Results from the March 2012 Non Partisan Survey. 78% of contacts strongly or somewhat liked the Brown-Millionaires Tax merged measure. 66% strongly or somewhat liked the Steyer initiative. Our Children, Our Future failed to reach majority support with only 47%

On May 15, the Alliance launched a Summer Civic Engagement program with 1,000 grassroots leaders contacting, educating and inspiring new and infrequent voters to get to the polls on June 5. Our goal was to contact 120,000 new and occasional voters in 11 counties, and identify 67,239 voters who support our long-term vision of tax and fiscal policy reform. We ended up surpassing our goals with 126,953 contacts made and a whopping 101,770 supporters identified. The daily and volunteer organizers surveyed Californians about what motivates them to vote, and distributed a non-partisan voter guide on the June 5 State Ballot Initiatives.