OLYMPIA (Sept. 15, 2016) — Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, recorded the statement in opposition to the Initiative 732 carbon tax for TVW’s Video Voter Guide.
Here is the transcript:
Initiative 732 would create a new and accelerating carbon tax while also cutting business taxes in Washington State. Intended to appeal to conservative voters, I-732 was advertised as revenue neutral. But it’s not. I-732 will make Washington’s budget mess worse.
A state analysis found that I-732 will cut funding available for education, health care, and other vital services by nearly $800 million over the next six years. Our state already faces a $5 billion budget deficit and court orders to improve funding for schools and mental health. I-732 makes this situation worse.
We want Washington to move toward a clean-energy economy. But our state’s climate policy must be comprehensive, so it protects families, communities, and jobs. I-732 fails this test. A clean-energy economy can reduce carbon emissions while also creating family-wage jobs. It can rebuild crumbling infrastructure to better serve our communities in a changing climate, invest in areas hardest hit by pollution, and provide a “Just Transition” toward a clean-energy economy for workers and communities. But I-732 doesn’t do any of this.
I-732 makes fossil fuels more expensive. But the point of climate change policy and carbon pricing isn’t just to pay more for fossil fuels. It’s also to give ourselves choices so we need less fossil fuel. Without investment in affordable energy alternatives, we just pay more for what we’ve got instead of making the clean-energy transition we need.
The families and communities near high-traffic roadways and industrial facilities, and the workers in industries targeted by I-732 taxes, are the people hardest hit by pollution. They will also pay the biggest price for I-732. That’s why the initiative’s sponsors created what they call a “Working Families Tax Exemption.” But this exemption would provide less than half of this vulnerable population with any relief from increased energy costs. What these Washington communities really need are investments and jobs to make an equitable transition to a clean-energy economy. But I-732 ignores this.
Washington state can and should be a leader on climate action, but we need the right policy and I-732 is not that. That’s why a broad coalition is advocating for a policy in Washington state that invests in clean energy, forests, water infrastructure, and a just transition to clean energy for workers and communities.
Climate policy is too important to not get it right. I-732 unfortunately gets it wrong. On behalf of the unions, environmental groups, organizations of color, businesses, faith-based groups and many others who stand united against I-732, we urge you to please Vote NO.
ALSO at The Stand — WSLC opposes Initiative 732 carbon tax (Jan. 28, 2016)