Letters to the Editor

I-732 critics blew chance to put a price on carbon

Thad Curtz

Olympia

Your recent op-ed from organizations in the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy criticized Initiative 732 for not supporting low-income people enough.

If we pass it, the 20 percent of working families with the lowest incomes in the state will pay between two-thirds and one-third of what they pay in state taxes now, depending on how many kids they have. Families in the next 20 percent, making $20,000 to $40,000 a year, will see a 15 to 32 percent reduction in their state tax burden. I-732 doesn’t increase taxes overall, but it shifts a sizable tax burden off working families and the sales tax, and moves it onto making CO2 pollution more expensive.

It’s an odd complaint from the alliance, because all spring the half-dozen organizations in it endlessly urged me to support Gov. Inslee’s cap and trade bill. That would have provided $143 million in low-income assistance; I-732 would provide $200 million!

For several years, Carbon WA has been urging this coalition to commit to running a carbon pricing initiative. If they had, I-732’s supporters would be collecting signatures for them, or getting ready to. Instead, they’ve spent their time and energy supporting a legislative effort that’s gone nowhere, which everybody well-informed knew would go nowhere. They’ve done poorly strategically about carbon pricing. They’ve failed to put forward any realistic political alternative for reaching their admirable goals.

It’s too bad they’re now working to keep I-732 from trying to succeed through a different, grassroots, approach.

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