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Carbon tax passes in fiscal committee, gets lukewarm support from some Democrats

On Thursday afternoon, the bill to put a tax on carbon emissions took another step forward in the Legislature. The bill was voted out of the Senate Ways & Means Committee with a “do pass” recommendation by a 13-10 vote along party lines.

While Republicans have voiced their criticism of the bill since it was first announced, a few Democrats also took time to state their doubts and concerns during the committee meeting. Prior to the vote, Senator Bob Hasagawa said that while he would vote to move the bill forward, his vote did not guarantee his support once the bill was on the Senate floor. He said,

“I am really concerned about the strategy that’s being used through a regressive tax such as this, where those who can least afford it will be bearing the biggest burden on their shoulders to correct this problem that’s effecting future generations. But I do believe that because this is such a crucial issue that must have a full conversation, I’m going to vote to keep this conversation going. We need to figure this problem out. So, I’ll be voting to keep this bill moving, but do not read that as a sign that I will support the regressive nature of this particular proposal when it gets to the floor.”

Senator Steve Conway, a Democrat representing South Tacoma, agreed with Sen. Hawagawa and added,

“I’m concerned about regressivity here and I’m also concerned about how this bill will impact our transportation budgets. And I think everyone knows, those budgets are so important for the mobility of people in our communities. So, like my colleague here, I will be moving this bill along to the floor so we can have a larger discussion.”

Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler also commented that he was concerned about how this would impact low-income Washingtonians. Particularly in light of the extra revenue reported in the February Revenue Forecast, Schoesler says that the revenue from this tax isn’t needed.

“There is no reason for a tax increase of any kind when the state treasury is already set to take in billions more than expected, due to economic growth. The fact that the energy tax is still moving is pure politics at work – the powerful special interests don’t care about the positive revenue projections, they want the tax for the sake of having the tax.”

“My Democrat colleagues are pushing one of the most regressive taxes possible just so our state can, as the bill’s prime sponsor put it, ‘join a global trend.’ This is a trend that the middle-income families and family-based employers of our state can’t afford to follow.”

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