The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, a federation of more than six hundred unions representing nearly half a million workers in Washington State, announced today that it has taken a position formally opposing CarbonWA’s I‑732, which backers have advertised as a “revenue neutral” tax swap that would levy a tax on emissions of gases like carbon dioxide, while lowering sales and B&O taxes.
“To deal with the climate crisis and rising global temperatures effectively, an economic transformation will be required — a transformation that cannot exclude the voices of working people, their unions, or communities of color,” said WSLC President Jeff Johnson in a statement posted to The Stand.
“We need a carbon and greenhouse gas reduction policy that caps and prices carbon, and then invests carbon revenues in leveraging the new clean energy economy in a manner that is equitable for working people and communities of color. No worker or community should be left behind in this economic transformation.”
“I‑732 does not address these concerns and, in fact, locks us in to a single policy that will cost our state General Fund nearly $1 billion. At a time our state is struggling to fund basic services — including public schools, mental health facilities, and many other essential services — I‑732 would send Washington in the wrong direction and create more damaging austerity choices.”
The Machinists, one of the largest unions in the WSLC, voted last autumn to take a position opposing I‑732, while its signature drive was still ongoing.
Last month, Carbon Washington (CarbonWA), the group behind I‑732, contemplated terminating the initiative and not submitting the remainder of the signatures that they had collected in favor of a compromise initiative they could support with the Alliance for Jobs & Clean Energy (of which NPI and the WSLC are members). But ultimately, they decided to turn in their signatures.
I‑732 subsequently passed its random sample check (though it was a close call, owing to an extremely high number of invalid signatures). It is now certified as an initiative to the Legislature and the 2016 ballot.
If the Legislature ignores it, as expected, it will be the first thing voters see when they open up their autumn ballots this coming October.
Analysis prepared by staff working for the Legislature and Department of Revenue suggests I‑732 would not be revenue neutral, as CarbonWA claims, but would instead cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars. CarbonWA and its backers strongly dispute the analysis and say the state’s math is wrong.