By Emily Hoeven
Actress and activist Jane Fonda has a message for wealthy Californians who oppose Proposition 30, a November ballot measure that would hike taxes on millionaires to subsidize electric vehicles and fund wildfire response and prevention:
“People who would choose to get rich and stay rich, as opposed to helping create a livable future, have to really seriously examine their priorities.”
Fonda, who acknowledged that her own taxes would go up if voters approve Prop. 30, shared her stance on the controversial ballot measure for the first time in an exclusive interview Monday.
Fonda spoke with me on Zoom from Los Angeles in between trips to Michigan, New Mexico and Texas to stump for candidates endorsed by the Jane Fonda Climate PAC, an organization she founded this year to help elect leaders who “care about people and the planet and the environment and the future more than corporations.”
The PAC has so far directly contributed $60,800 to 29 California candidates at the federal, state, county and city level, said Ariel Hayes, the PAC’s executive director and former national political director for the Sierra Club. Hayes said the PAC is still determining how much more it plans to invest before the Nov. 8 election.
- Those figures don’t include money contributed to “independent expenditure” committees — which don’t coordinate with the campaigns they’re trying to help — or money raised through online or in-person joint fundraising drives, Hayes said.
The PAC is just the latest climate endeavor for Fonda, 84, a two-time Academy Award-winning actress with a decades-long history of activism. Although Fonda announced in September that she had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, “this f—–g cancer is not going to keep me from doing all that I can,” she told me, adding that the climate crisis makes her “so scared I can’t sleep.”
After the November election, the PAC plans to zero in on California and the Gulf states, where the oil industry holds significant sway, Fonda said.
- Fonda: “Nationally, people think that California is way ahead of the rest of the country. And in many ways it is true, it’s done some great things. But … the window of opportunity is closing fast. And while the Legislature here has passed some really exceptional bills this season, it also killed a bill that would have moved California to achieve a 55% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030. It … killed a bill which would have divested California pension funds from fossil fuel companies.”
Other key takeaways from my interview with Fonda:
- On disagreeing with Gov. Gavin Newsom: By supporting Prop. 30, Fonda is siding with the California Democratic Party — but breaking with Newsom, who has joined the California Republican Party in urging voters to reject the measure. (Newsom has warned the measure could destabilize California’s budget, which disproportionately relies on taxes from high earners. Amid concerns of an impending recession, California’s tax revenues in September came in $2.8 billion below projections, putting the state’s coffers about $7 billion below projections from the most recent economic forecast, according to a Monday report from the state Department of Finance.)
- In several high-profile Dem-on-Dem races, Fonda’s PAC and Newsom have endorsed opposing candidates: For a hotly contested Sacramento-area seat in the state Senate, the PAC is backing progressive Dave Jones while Newsom is behind the more moderate Angelique Ashby. And for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Newsom is supporting former state Sen. Bob Hertzberg — whom Fonda said is “too much in bed with the oil companies” — while the PAC is backing his opponent, Lindsey Horvath. “A lot of us have been battling the governor for quite a long time, and he has finally done really, really, really well in the climate space,” Fonda said. “But we don’t always see eye to eye.”
- On state lawmakers approving Newsom’s last-minute push to extend the lifespan of Diablo Canyon, California’s last nuclear power plant: “Am I happy about the need to rely on nuclear energy right now? No,” Fonda said. But as we “phase gradually out of fossil fuels, as we build up our sustainable green energy sector … we need a bridge.”
- On the oil industry pursuing a referendum to overturn a recently signed law banning new oil and gas wells close to sensitive areas: “Our elected officials voted for that. How dare the oil companies try to override the will of the California voters? How dare they? They’re already killing us because of what they’re doing to our planet and lying to us about what they’re doing. I mean, it’s a direct attack on democracy.”