NO on Initiative 732
NO on Initiative 732

Although this week marks the sig­na­ture sub­mis­sion dead­line for 2016 ini­tia­tives to the peo­ple, it’s worth remem­ber­ing that there are two ini­tia­tives to the 2016 Leg­is­la­ture that were pre­vi­ous­ly cer­ti­fied to the bal­lot at the begin­ning of this year. Nei­ther was act­ed on by the House and Sen­ate, so the peo­ple will decide their fate in Novem­ber. The first ini­tia­tive vot­ers will see on their bal­lot is Car­bon­WA’s I‑732, and we test­ed its bal­lot title last month in our end-of-spring poll.

Here’s what we found:

There will be a mea­sure on Wash­ing­ton’s Novem­ber 2016 bal­lot called Ini­tia­tive 732, con­cern­ing tax­es. The descrip­tion reads as fol­lows: This mea­sure would impose a car­bon emis­sion tax on cer­tain fos­sil fuels and fos­sil-fuel-gen­er­at­ed elec­tric­i­ty, reduce the sales tax by one per­cent­age point and increase a low-income exemp­tion, and reduce cer­tain man­u­fac­tur­ing tax­es. If the elec­tion were being held now, would you def­i­nite­ly vote yes, prob­a­bly vote yes, prob­a­bly vote no, or def­i­nite­ly vote no on Ini­tia­tive 732?

  • Yes: 52%
    • Def­i­nite­ly vote yes: 21%
    • Prob­a­bly vote yes: 31%
  • No: 39%
    • Prob­a­bly vote no: 21%
    • Def­i­nite­ly vote no: 18%
  • Not sure: 8%

This sur­vey of 679 like­ly Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from June 14th-15th, 2016; all respon­dents par­tic­i­pat­ed via land­line. The poll has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.8% at the 95% con­fi­dence level.

These are the best num­bers we’ve seen for the I‑732 bal­lot title, but still not very robust con­sid­er­ing that pro­gres­sives are not uni­fied behind I‑732 and con­sid­er­ing that is like­ly going to need to with­stand a NO cam­paign with some mon­ey behind it. There’s sim­ply no cush­ion, no mar­gin for error in these numbers.

Notice that the per­cent­age of respon­dents def­i­nite­ly plan­ning to vote for I‑732 is only 21%. Con­trast that with the 56% of respon­dents who are def­i­nite­ly sup­port­ive of I‑1491 (extreme risk pro­tec­tion orders).

The Alliance for Jobs & Clean Ener­gy, which NPI is a mem­ber of, pre­vi­ous­ly test­ed the I‑732 bal­lot title and found that it start­ed out at 39% in favor.

Aver­age our sur­vey’s find­ings with theirs, and you get 45.5% Yes. That’s sim­ply not where a Yes cam­paign wants to be head­ing into an election.

NPI has tak­en a posi­tion oppos­ing I‑732, as has the Wash­ing­ton State Labor Coun­cil, the Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, OneAm­er­i­ca, Fuse, and many oth­er pro­gres­sive orga­ni­za­tions based here in the Pacif­ic North­west. The recent­ly fin­ished con voter’s pam­phlet state­ment nice­ly sum­ma­rizes our objections:

State Deficit

I‑732 will make Washington’s bud­get mess worse. A Depart­ment of Rev­enue analy­sis found I‑732 will cut fund­ing avail­able for edu­ca­tion, health care, and oth­er vital ser­vices by $797 mil­lion over the next six years. Our state faces a $5 bil­lion deficit and court orders to meet basic edu­ca­tion and men­tal health needs. I‑732 makes this sit­u­a­tion worse.

Cli­mate and Jobs

Cli­mate pol­i­cy must be com­pre­hen­sive, so it doesn’t harm peo­ple and kill jobs. I‑732 fails this test. A clean-ener­gy econ­o­my can reduce car­bon emis­sions and reverse cli­mate change while also cre­at­ing fam­i­ly-wage jobs, rebuild­ing crum­bling infra­struc­ture, invest­ing in areas hard­est hit by pol­lu­tion, and pro­vid­ing a “Just Tran­si­tion” for work­ers and com­mu­ni­ties. I‑732 doesn’t do any of this. Instead, I‑732 impos­es an accel­er­at­ing car­bon tax on busi­ness­es, with no pro­vi­sions for com­pli­ance flex­i­bil­i­ty or ener­gy-effi­cien­cy incen­tives. Some busi­ness­es will sim­ply move their jobs and pol­lu­tion across state lines.


Vul­ner­a­ble fam­i­lies in com­mu­ni­ties near pol­lu­tion hot spots and work­ers in ener­gy inten­sive indus­tries are hard­est hit by pol­lu­tion. But I‑732’s “Work­ing Fam­i­lies Tax Exemp­tion” pro­vides less than half of this pop­u­la­tion with any relief from increased ener­gy costs. These com­mu­ni­ties will need invest­ments and jobs to make an equi­table tran­si­tion to a for­ward-think­ing clean-ener­gy econ­o­my. I‑732 ignores this. At a time when we are strug­gling to main­tain good jobs and fund basic ser­vices, I‑732 would send Wash­ing­ton in the wrong direction.

Vote NO.

Back when there was still time to put a cam­paign togeth­er, NPI urged the Alliance for Jobs & Clean Ener­gy to stick to its pledge to qual­i­fy its own plan to the Novem­ber bal­lot to com­pete with I‑732. Sad­ly, that did­n’t happen.

We believe the best course of action now is to reject I‑732 in Novem­ber and work to pass a com­pre­hen­sive plan to stop pol­lu­tion and address dam­age to the cli­mate in the 2017 Leg­is­la­ture — if we get a Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leg­is­la­ture. Oth­er­wise, we’ll need to put togeth­er a new ini­tia­tive cam­paign — hope­ful­ly one that excites pro­gres­sives and gets near unan­i­mous or unan­i­mous sup­port from the envi­ron­men­tal movement.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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