Washington State Carbon Tax Initiative Voted Down
Leading environmentalist groups hated its revenue neutrality
The carbon tax initiative (I-732) garnered only 42 percent of the vote in Washington State. The tax was supposed to be revenue neutral by lowering the state sales tax by 1 cent and provide tax rebates of up to $1,500 per year to 460,000 low-income households. The initial $25 per ton would have boosted the price of gallon of gas by about 25 cents, and added 2.5 cents to each kilowatt-hour of coal-fired electricity, and 1.25 cents to electricity generated by natural gas. Interestingly, the proposal which aimed to cut emissions of carbon dioxide that are contributing to man-made global warming was opposed by many leading environmentalist groups. Why? Largely because of the tax's revenue neutrality. The climate activists wanted to use the revenues to "invest" in various projects such as subsidizing solar and wind power schemes, mass transit and job training for folks put out of work by climate policies.
"We think it's essential to have the revenue reinvested in climate solutions," said Aiko Schaefer, coordinator of Front and Centered, a coalition of 60 social justice and community groups that opposed I-732. The coalition includes the NAACP, the Urban League, Coalition, the Asian-Pacific Island Coalition, and the Latino Community Fund. "Pricing carbon, and then giving the money away in tax breaks—including corporate tax breaks—is not something we could support."
As carbon tax proponent Yoram Bauman noted:
"There's two stories you can tell about how to get climate action. One is our story, a bipartisan revenue-neutral approach, and the other story is kind of what I would refer to as a unite-the-left, or progressive takeover of the world," he said. "For folks who are very committed to the second story, the first story doesn't look so good.
"Our position all along has been not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good…We think that they're going to look back on this as a mistake that they made, of being on the wrong side of history," Bauman said.
Let's see how far leftwing activists get in the future when they propose a climate policy to voters that amounts to a straight up tax hike.