Work begins on a new Washington State initiative for a meaningful carbon tax


The work has already begun to get a meaningful carbon tax passed in Washington State. I don’t know if the population of this state is willing to pay more in taxes, which is really what is at the heart of this whole issue, but there is no other way forward. I would prefer to see a massive push towards converting to solar, wind and getting people into electric cars, but the ‘powers that be’ in the environmental movement keep coming back to this notion of a carbon tax being something that the population will buy. Given Trumps’ election, I’m not so sure that this is true, but I’m willing to go along.

This plan includes a coalition of organizations that could actually get this done, and it’s up to the folks who failed with their ballot measure to suck up their loss, and join this coalition  to get this through. This initiative, while still raising taxes on gas, would use the money to put tens of thousands of people to work with it. That, to me, seems like a win/win situation.

With Trump headed for the White House, climate activists look to states for action to cut carbon emissions, and plan for a new legislative push in Olympia

Seattle Times original article.

7 Responses

  1. I don’t think I said I have anything to teach anyone about coalition building. I simply report on the issues that show up in my inbox. I listened to one of the top Democratic legislators *last November in 2015* tell us that this initiative was not going to succeed, because the folks that were doing it were doing it in a vacuum. So you want to blame those that didn’t “get on the bus” when the bus didn’t seem to have seats for them? It was clear to him 12 months ago that this was not the right initiative. You don’t think that the folks that wrote it hadn’t heard that? What’s their excuse for that?

    I’ll seriously look at any initiative that garners support from a coalition of people that spend their lives working on these issues, and understand that we need to bring in people of color, and also people on the margins of society to understand what they have to gain by backing these initiatives. The enviros are an almost all white group in this state. They have been working to address issues of the poor and communities of color so that they buy into the problems we are trying to solve. By showing them that for the raising of taxes, that jobs are going to given to their communities, to their people, will help get their buy in.

    This election has shown that those lower on the economic ladder are mad. They have been left out, or so they feel, from the economic booms of the 80s, 90s, and this decade. They have seen their property taxes go up, why? Because wealth people from out of the county are able to bid up the prices and it forces them to pay more taxes. That is the way it is. For us trying to stave off environmental disaster to ask them to simply , “pay more” is not enough. They can’t. Frankly, I *HATE* taxes for achieving these goals because in our state, they fall mainly on the working poor. If we had a real tax system that was progressive and taxed the rich the most, maybe that would work and you could tell these people that the rich would pay the most. But you can’t, because it isn’t true. So something has to be given back for that which is taken. Now. Not later.

    You say they don’t complain when the price of gas goes up, maybe not to you. But we have hundreds of people at the food bank here, people that have to take money from their food to buy gas or pay tolls on bridges when it goes up. They take that money from their kids health care when it goes up. Because they *have* to get to their jobs. I have known women that had to chose between their kids medicines and their kids food. Medical bankruptcy is a at a record pace here because people can’t afford to pay their medical bills. Jefferson and Clallam Counties are poor counties, that happen to have enclaves of better off, even rich people living in them. But if you look at our tax base, we can barely get our local Parks initiatives passed, and that has a direct correlation of cost and benefit.

    So please don’t tell me that you had some kind of magic bullet for them. You were asking them to pay more now and into the future for some salvation in the distant future. For a goal that many of them see as a white middle and upper class goal. A big pie in the sky when you die. Just like the churches do. Or maybe they would *love* to support it, but just can’t vote to raise their taxes for political promises, which, if they even read them, promise something called ‘revenue neutral.” Why? Because their wages are stagnating, and no new jobs are being enticed to the county by our well meaning but in many ways ineffective pols. You know how much they value political promises. Not at all.

    No. The coalition that said that I-732 was not the right solution to the problem, given the outcome of the rest of the election, knew exactly what they were doing. They were saying, ‘give us something to give to these people now, to show it’s a win/win today for them. Show them jobs being created in their neighborhoods.’

    These same voters that turned this down, returned a huge slate of hard core greens to office, including electing Hilary Franz, Jay Inslee and many many other environmental champions to the legislature. They understood who they wanted to elect. And the understood why they didn’t want to vote for this. So let’s take our victories as they are and work from there. There’s a ton of stuff to do.

    • Just to wrap this up. My point was that people (broadly speaking; not just the poor) complain about higher gas prices when gas taxes are the cause, but not when oil companies are responsible. Then, it’s just the “market” and everyone’s OK with that. When gas was about $4.50 a gallon after the financial meltdown, I didn’t hear many complaints via the media (again, broadly speaking). People simply drove less. So, one would not expect many complaints in the real world, except that everyone complains about taxes…because government.

      Of course, the poor are affected whenever costs go up, but one expects that transfer payments will address those issues. At least, one COULD expect that before sociopaths ran the federal government. It seems the plight of the poor must now determine every policy any group develops. Everyone now needs a “seat the table.” Had Hillary won, we would’ve had a massive increase in solar programs and green jobs, and we would’ve had a multi-pronged approach for addressing climate change. Now, it seems a single initiative or law will have to do all the heavy lifting, instead of a sequence of fixes.

      In fact, I-732 DID try to address – in a necessarily coarse way – the burden imposed on the poor by a higher gas tax. It cut the state sales tax by one percent and funded “working families tax credits.” But obviously, not enough people were either aware of those benefits or aware of how they would personally be affected by this tax shift, and it seems that I-732 organizers did not explain this to those most affected. Hence the issue of “nexus” is much more important than I think the organizers realized. In any case, what’s done is done and we lose a year or more of tax shift benefit.

  2. You think we’re going to join YOUR coalition??? You’re tripping. I-732 didn’t fail because it wasn’t well organized or well conceived. It failed because “green” groups didn’t support it, because it’s a “gas tax” and people HATE gas taxes, and because 40 percent of Washington residents (as well as other states) are climate-change deniers.

    Your proposal will promise even less to voters and will be seen as the money grab it is.

    • Sorry for your anger. it appears as though I’ve hit a sore nerve. I would suggest you go back and count the votes, there were not enough environmentalists in all the state to have made the difference in that vote . If you really want a carbon tax passed you’ll stop blaming the very people who want to see one done and try a second time with a different option. A hard lesson to learn as you go through politics is that you rarely win the first time. Most politicians often come back from major defeats to win again. Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Others have never let defeat stop them from going after their goals. Read up on the life of Tom Hayden . I can’t predict what the voters will want the next time this shows up on the ballot, and neither can you. After four years or so of Trump many of the Washington voters will believe anything he tells them. But if you want to see it done we better all work together on something that we can agree on, something that offers jobs in return for the promised tax breaks rather than trying to slam something through by a small group of people who thought it was the right thing to do without talking everyone else in the enviro world.This is about building coalitions to get things done. No more blame games let’s all work together on this. Hell, I thought it was going to pass, not that I thought it was the right law. I only said what I thought and not what I thought was going to happen .

      • Yeah, my nerves are sore where the knives went into my back. As far as coalition building, I really don’t think you have anything to teach anyone else. You could have supported I-732 and we would’ve supported your initiative, assuming you raised your own funding source. I-732 was never the end-all and be-all. It was just a first step, but you’re all acting like we owed you something. Anyway, it’s all blood under the bridge at this point.

        People really do hate gas taxes, though they have no problem when oil companies raise prices. I base this on comment threads I’ve read and on personal experience. So, as KC Golden says, “don’t forget the nexus.” Good luck. (P.S., I’m not speaking for anyone other than myself).

  3. Agreed. Good points all.

  4. We are all currently paying a carbon tax, though many of our fellow citizens may not realize it. As the plummeting population numbers of fish, birds, invertebrates and orcas require ever more tax dollars in attempts to mitigate the problems caused by changing ocean conditions, we will find that Industries that rely on ocean resources will be spending more and charging consumers more as well. A workable carbon tax would help us get out of this death spiral.

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