LOS ANGELES — California voters on Tuesday rejected Proposition 72, which would have mandated companies with more than 50 employees to pay at least 80 percent of private health insurance premiums for the workers.

Wal-Mart last week contributed $600,000 to fight the measure several days after supporters of Prop 72 began running a television ad alleging that taxpayers in the state spent $32 million last year toward providing health care to Wal-Mart workers. The opposition comes as Wal-Mart, which had sales of $256 billion last year, seeks to blunt opposition to its growth in lucrative markets in the most populous U.S. state, where it wants to build 40 Supercenters in the next several years.

“Although the proposition was never about Wal-Mart, the proponents used Wal-Mart to try and unfairly mislead voters,” said Wal-Mart spokesman Pete Kanelos. “Ultimately, it would have limited the choices that companies offered to their employees and been a costly government-mandated health care plan for both Wal-Mart and the citizens of California.’’

— Michelle Dalton Tyree

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