REPORTER CARTOON, Frank Shiers, Jr.

REPORTER CARTOON, Frank Shiers, Jr.

I-1631? Unfair, ineffective tax that costs too much, in return for too little

  • Thursday, October 25, 2018 10:07am
  • Opinion

On election day, voters will decide the fate of Initiative 1631, which, in the name of greenhouse gas reduction, imposes a never-ending tax increase on those least able to afford it.

I’m voting no. And I hope you will join me. I have spent years of my adult life involved in government – on the Renton City Council; and, as president at different times of both the Puget Sound Regional Council and Port of Seattle board of commissioners – and I know how special interests behave when they see a pot of money. And I-1631 is a multi-billion dollar pot of tax dollars that will come right out of your pockets.

Climate policy is too important to be decided in an initiative written by the very people who end up controlling the purse strings. I-1631 will:

• Sequester $30 billion in 15 years, money that might be better used elsewhere;

• Have a total net cost increase of $440 a year for Washington households, increasing every year after that;

• Cause the loss of thousands of jobs; and,

• Leave 93 percent of carbon emissions untouched.

That’s why a new study by NERA Economic Consulting — the only independent, private analysis of I-1631 by either side — is so compelling. It makes a very strong case that this measure is not the right step to address climate change. I firmly believe that climate change is a real threat, and we need to do something that will seriously address our part.

The NERA analysis says the total net cost per household is projected to be $440 in 2020, the first year under I-1631, increasing to $990 per household by 2035.

Assuming that all of the money collected under I-1631 will be spent on clean energy and reducing emissions, NERA’s analysis finds that after 15 years and $30 billion in new taxes, the state will not reach its emission reduction goals and we will leave 93 percent of Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions untouched. Even in a best-case scenario, I-1631 will have no impact on climate change – here in Washington or in the country.

NERA isn’t alone in these conclusions.

Here are two other important voices you can trust: Professor Cliff Mass, a well-known University of Washington climatologist, and Brian Sonntag, our state’s highly regarded retired state auditor. They have deep concerns over who makes the spending decisions . They urge that this initiative be defeated. Both signed the No on I-1631 statement in the Washington State Voters Guide.

Mass writes in his blog: “Instead of explicitly dedicating carbon fee funding to important climate-related needs, I-1631 hands the responsibility of distributing the cash to a 15-member oversight board including five WA state department heads and 10 appointed (by the governor) individuals.” Nor do initiative supporters have a spending plan, the professor points out.

Lately some of my friends are saying about climate change: “We’ve got to do something.” And we do. First, vote down this very poorly written initiative. Second, demand that our state Legislature come up with a plan that works for everybody. Not just the special interests who wrote the initiative.

I-1631 is a costly, unfair and ineffective tax that costs too much, in return for too little benefit, if any at all, for the environment.

I’m voting no on I-1631.

Bob Edwards is a former Renton City Council member now living in Bellevue; and past president of the Association of Washington Cities.

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