Carbon Tax Ballot Initiative is Badly Flawed Throughout

Date: October 27, 2018

NFIB Washington urges a No vote

This fall, Washington state voters will again be asked to consider a carbon tax in the form of Initiative 1631.

NFIB is strongly urging a NO vote.

I-1631 is a deeply flawed, unfair energy tax that would place an additional financial burden squarely on the shoulders of small businesses, families, and consumers. Furthermore, I-1631 does not guarantee any significant reductions in greenhouse gases and lacks any real accountability for how billions in taxes would be spent.

I-1631 would force Washington small businesses and consumers to pay billions more in taxes for gasoline, home heating, electricity, natural gas, and pretty much anything else that requires energy and is manufactured or shipped here in Washington. Every car trip, every item delivered to loading docks or doorsteps, every touch of the thermostat will cost you and your small business more.

As proposed, Initiative 1631 would impose a $15-per-ton fee on certain carbon emissions beginning in 2020. The fee would increase by $2 each year plus inflation, quadrupling within 15 years—with no limit on high it could go.

A state analysis shows that 1631 would increase energy taxes by $2.3 billion in the first five years alone. In addition, I-1631 would add hundreds of millions of dollars to ratepayers’ energy bills for higher costs for

utilities. And I-1631’s taxes would continue to automatically increase every year — indefinitely, with no set cap.

Proponents claim that they are going after large emitters but what they don’t tell you is that I-1631 exempts many of the state’s largest polluters, including a coal-fired power plant and many others. In fact, eight of the 12 largest carbon emitters in Washington would get a special exemption and would not pay 1631’s energy tax and associated costs, leaving the burden on small businesses and working families. So, large corporate polluters get a break, but small businesses and working families don’t.

Independent studies have already estimated that 1631 would increase the cost of gasoline by 14 cents per gallon in the first year alone, increasing annually with no cap. The cost of gas will quickly add up to 60 cents more per gallon within 15 years. In addition, there would be millions more year in increased costs for utilities.

At its core, I-1631 is a regressive tax that hits hardest those who can least afford it, including low-income and fixed-income households, seniors and working families. Independent studies show that an average household would pay up to $305 more in the first year alone, soaring to more than $877 per year after just 10 years.

But what’s perhaps more troubling than 1631’s high, burdensome costs is the glaring lack of accountability to voters and its disincentive against meeting the initiative’s stated goals.
I-1631 would create an unelected board of political appointees, with no real accountability to voters or even the Legislature. This board would have broad authority to spend billions in taxpayer dollars, with no responsibility for outcomes, no specific plan, and no requirements that the money be spent specifically to reduce greenhouse gases.

I-1631 is virtually an entire book of blank checks for a small group of political appointees to spend as they choose.

Finally, there is no requirement under I-1631 to meet any specific greenhouse gas reduction goals. Ironically, the measure rewards failure by increasing the fees, and the taxpayer dollars collected, for every year the proposed goals are not met.

I-1631 would burden us all — small businesses, families, farmers, and consumers — with an unfair energy tax that would continue to increase indefinitely with no cap and no meaningful protection for the environment.

For these reasons, NFIB urges a NO vote on 1631.

Related Content: News | Elections | Energy | Taxes | Washington

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