NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

Washington State Labor Council votes to oppose CarbonWA’s Initiative 732

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.

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One Ping

  1. […] Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty went on record as opposed to CarbonWA’s I‑732, join­ing the Wash­ing­ton State Labor Coun­cil and IAM’s Dis­trict Lodge 751 in the no camp. I‑732 is a com­plex tax swap pro­pos­al that would […]

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