Election Guide 2016

Vote Yes On I-732 to Start Addressing Climate Change NOW

No piece of legislation is perfect, but this measure would be a huge first step toward finally grappling with global warming.

Few who care about climate change deny how urgent the crisis is; the question remains how we can most effectively tackle it. I-732 would tax the use of fossil fuels (for most, that’d mean a slightly higher price at the pump and home heating costs), then return that money to taxpayers in the form of cuts in sales taxes, business taxes, and an as-yet-unfunded state tax rebate for low-income working families. It is, in short, a “revenue-neutral” carbon tax, an economic concept that has worked to reduce emissions in Vancouver, B.C., and which is now being implemented across Canada. The major environmental groups that oppose I-732 say it does not do enough. It relies on market forces to drive down emissions, rather than using the money from a carbon tax to invest in renewable energy. It does little for the low-income communities of color most affected by carbon pollution and climate change. They also point to suspicions that I-732 could become revenue-negative, rather than revenue-neutral, and cost the state money in the end. These are legitimate concerns. But we believe, like the Sightline Institute, an environmental think tank that closely analyzed the measure, that I-732 is revenue-neutral, “to the best of anyone’s ability to forecast it.” And as for the measure’s effect on low-income communities, reducing the sales tax and funding an unfunded state tax credit is nothing to sneeze at. But the real reason we’re voting for I-732 is that we believe this is not an either/or decision. It is not the only way to combat climate change in this state, and it will not be the last. We understand the fear that passing a revenue-neutral carbon tax now could eliminate the political will to pass a revenue-positive one in the future. But Washington state has rarely had the political will to pass any kind of revenue-positive tax increase; neither has the legislature demonstrated the will to pass state climate policy. Sure, I-732 is a compromise. It’s also a way to do something—now.

Read the rest of Seattle Weekly’s endorsements for the 2016 general election here.

More in News & Comment

Inside the Grassroots Effort to Give Renters More Political Power

An incremental approach to renters’ rights paid a dividend this week.

‘Pruitt Blew It’: At the EPA, Resistance Is Just Part of the Job

Current and former staffers say morale is low at the watchdog agency. But that doesn’t mean they’re giving up.

Man Killed By a King County Deputy Last Week Was Armed With a Pen

Initial reports said Tommy Le was carrying a knife.

As Third Special Session Begins, Lawmakers Struggle Over Budget

Inslee says shutdown would be historic failure by lawmakers.

With the State Budget at an Impasse, the Countdown to Shutdown Is On

If a budget isn’t signed by the end of July 1, state parks will close, critical social services will stop, and thousands of workers will be laid off.

House, Senate Narrow Differences on Testing Requirements

A proposed compromise would provide a way for students who fail the English and math assessments to graduate.

‘Murder is Murder’: Despite Reforms, Mourners Fear Justice Will Be Elusive for Charleena Lyles

Use of force reviews remain firmly under SPD control. That’s left families unsatisfied before.

Most Read