December 7, 2015
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Carbon tax initiative headed to the Legislature, and likely then to voters

A proposed initiative to set up a British Columbia-style carbon tax, offset with a reduction in the state sales tax, has enough signatures to go before the Legislature in 2016, and likely then on to voters if not passed as-is.

Initiative 732 would tax fossil fuels and energy, costs that would likely be passed on to customers at the gas pump and on their utility bills, The Seattle Times reports. The initiative is billed as revenue-neutral at the state level because it cuts the overall state sales tax, giving tax credits to low-income families and cutting some business and occupation taxes for manufacturers. However, it is not necessarily revenue-neutral for all employers as some will pay more under the plan.

I-732 has 330,000 signatures, more than the 246,372 required for it to go before the Legislature. Lawmakers can pass the bill as is, or if they reject or alter it, the initiative will go before voters next fall.

Another group, the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, is considering its own carbon cap-and-trade initiative. While the group is still formulating the final language, this proposal would not be revenue-neutral; like the early version of Gov. Jay Inslee’s cap-and-trade plan, this initiative would raise billions of dollars for state governmental operations and raise the cost of fuel, energy and goods for every Washingtonian.

The Spokesman-Review notes that despite Inslee’s calls for a carbon emissions tax, lawmakers from both parties have not moved to adopt that change.

Meanwhile, AWB is continuing to work with its own coalition of employers, farmers, labor unions and other statewide groups in the Washington Climate Collaborative to spread the word about Washington’s ongoing and long-standing reductions in carbon emissions. Last week, the group released an informative infographic detailing how Washington employers have been lowering its carbon footprint for decades. Without a single new tax or regulation, Washington’s carbon emissions are already on track to continue declining for decades to come.

Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Brandon Houskeeper to learn more.

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