October 25, 2018

Voters get their say on Nov. 6: I-1631's energy tax and control of the Legislature loom large

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Ballots are in the mail, and many are already marked and on the way to be counted for this year's general election on Nov. 6.

Voters have a lot of choices to make. AWB's candidate endorsement list is one way to gauge whether a candidate understands the many issues that impact the state's competitiveness -- especially Washington's ability to attract and retain employers.

The endorsements were made after countless candidate interviews across the state, Then, AWB's Government Affairs Council, made up of member company representatives, settled on the candidates they believe have the health of the state's economy and employers top of mind. The entire list of candidate endorsements is online.

Much of the focus this election is also on Initiative 1631, which would create the nation's first carbon tax (although it's called a "fee" on the ballot). According to the state Office of Financial Management, I-1631 would generate an estimated $2.3 billion over five years.

In July, AWB took a position to oppose I-1631 because of its costs to employers and families, as well as  concerns about a major new unelected bureaucracy the initiative would create to allocate the billions of dollars raised by the new carbon fee through higher fuel, energy and natural gas costs on consumers.

AWB President Kris Johnson recently explained the association's concerns with the initiative, specifically addressing the increased energy costs if I-1631 is approved. Writing in the Puget Sound Business Journal, Johnson said: "The impact of I-1631 on energy, fuel and natural gas would put Washington businesses at a competitive disadvantage to their neighbors in other states. Consumers would be hit with higher energy costs, making it more expensive to get to work, take children to school, heat homes and buy groceries."

The Seattle Times joined a host of newspapers across the state in editorializing against I-1631, citing the measure’s cost and unaccountable spending among its list of concerns. “Everyone would pay more for housing, food and other goods, because higher energy prices increase their cost,” the paper wrote.

“The question is not whether to reduce emissions,” the paper continued. “Of course we should; that’s happening now. Rather, should residents fund I-1631’s spending with soaring energy costs?

"If that would stop the impacts of global warming on this state, it might be worthwhile. But I-1631 won’t make that happen.

"Vote no and demand a better and more accountable plan for combating climate change.”

With the general election speeding quickly toward voters, AWB hopes everyone gets their ballots in so their voices can be heard.