Gov. Jay Inslee made headlines this week when he declared he would make the state’s largest polluters pay for transportation improvements and other costs by taxing them for the amount of carbon they release into the atmosphere.
To some, it’s a welcome declaration.
Why not punish industries for detrimental environmental impacts, therefore protecting those who can’t afford additional taxes and expenditures?
Unfortunately, Inslee’s plan is not as perfect as the wording in his statements to the media.
In reality, the costs of adding massive taxes to large businesses will ultimately impact us all.
The state estimates fuel prices will increase 7 to 15 percent higher than they otherwise would be by 2035.
Companies hit hard by the so-called cap-and-trade program and carbon limits are not likely to simply absorb the reduction in profits. The more likely scenario is that jobs will be lost and the cost of products we all need — steel, oil and electricity — will increase as business leaders seek to recoup the costs.
Inslee has made it clear that combating the perceived effects of climate change will be a primary focus of his time in office.
Inslee says his plan will produce $1 billion in revenue the first year alone. We share the concern of state Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, who addressed the governor’s plan Wednesday and called some aspects into question.
“He says his tax on polluters will raise nearly five billion dollars over the next twelve years,” Orcutt wrote. “How did he arrive at that figure? If his past statements as a candidate and governor on budget and tax-related issues are any guide, I suspect it will not stand up to scrutiny.
“Additionally, the governor’s plan contains the same vague promises about transportation reforms we’ve heard before. Aside from practical design, which does appear to be saving taxpayer dollars, there isn’t a strong commitment to fixing the many messes at WSDOT.”
A major transportation package is sorely needed from the coming legislative session. This is not the correct way of going about it.
While running for governor, Inslee said “the right time (for a transportation package) is when we gain trust of Washingtonians.”
With Bertha stuck below Seattle, millions of dollars lost on the State Route 520 project and a lack of interest for many needed projects in rural areas of the state, the trust has not come to fruition.
Likewise, we don’t trust that making the state’s “largest polluters” foot the bill will not have major negative consequences for us all.