Another day, another carbon tax scheme
Last fall, the majority of voters in my legislative district voted against Initiative 1631, the carbon tax scheme. In the three northeast counties, the percentage of people voting no were:
Ferry County = 74.5 percent;
Stevens County = 79 percent;
Pend Oreille County = 77.24 percent.
In the two counties that are partially in the Seventh Legislative District, the numbers were:
Spokane County = 65.36 percent;
Okanogan County = 70.25 percent.
Even statewide, including the Puget Sound region and Seattle suburbs, the measure failed with 56.56 percent voting no.
For the people I serve and see throughout the day at school events and community meetings, there was a resounding rejection of the effort to pay for a “green agenda” on the backs of those who can afford it the least.
Unfortunately, the majority party in the state House or Representatives has turned a deaf ear to voters. Despite 20 floor amendments and nearly four hours of intense debate, Democrats in the state House broke trust with voters and kicked rural residents to the curb by passing legislation (House Bill 1110) mandating a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS).
A LCFS is an effort to reduce the carbon intensity in transportation fuels. The idea is that alternative fuels will help bring down greenhouse gas emissions if mandated targets are introduced into the marketplace.
When California first implemented the idea over a decade ago, it took years of litigation before fully going into effect. Drivers in that state are seeing a 16 cent per gallon increase in the cost of gas, and that number is expected to rise.
Because our state is so heavily tied to the agriculture industry and relies on exports and trucking, any substantial increase in the price of fuel should not be taken lightly. As fuel prices increase, the cost of food, goods and services go up. The cost of taking a sick child to the doctor, commuting to work, or going to the grocery store will continue to rise.
In our state, the governor's own Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup reported that it was not an efficient mechanism for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Those of us who live in eastern Washington know that properly managing our forests to reduce wildfires would have more of an immediate impact on our environment than another “green” tax scheme. One bad wildfire season can easily wipe out years of carbon-reducing plans put into place locally or at the state level.
With Washington already being one of the greenest states in the nation, it makes you wonder if politicians really want to help the environment, or just want more of your money?
Last week, the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) gave the Legislature impressive news. Our state is seeing record tax collections – unprecedented, really.
Two years ago when budget writers sat down to write their next two-year budget, the ERFC estimated the state would have $41.6 billion. Today, the council says that number for the next two-year budget is $50.55 billion! That's a nearly $9 billion increase from taxpayers in just two years!
Mandating a LCFS is a hidden gas tax that pays for little environmental benefit. Rural Washington residents would be especially harmed as they typically drive longer distances throughout the week.
This legislation is currently in the state Senate. If it passes that legislative body, I have no doubt Gov. Inslee will sign it into law as part of his presidential campaign of running on anything “green” despite the costs to hardworking families.
I urge citizens to call the legislative hotline number at 1-800-562-6000 or Gov. Inslee's office number at (360) 902-4111 to express your thoughts on HB 1110.
Speak now, or pay later.
(Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber, R-Republic, is the minority floor leader and former assistant ranking member on the House Environment Committee.)