On the heels of an unsuccessful statewide initiative to create a revenue neutral carbon tax, recently re-elected Governor Jay Inslee has proposed a carbon tax as a revenue source to fund the state’s court-mandated support of K-12 public education. The ambitious Inslee plan would generate $4.4B in new revenue through a combination of the carbon tax, a capital gains tax, and closing a set of current tax exemptions. Under court order, Washington State is required to fully fund public education – a chore past legislatures have balked at doing – but now must do so in the upcoming session. The proposed carbon tax would be initially set at $25 per ton. It is certain to face stiff opposition in the 2017 legislative session, especially among Senate Republicans who continue to control that chamber. Predictably, it’s been labeled by key Senate leaders as a massive tax increase. Notably, those same Senators have not offered an alternative path to achieve the funding support for education required by the Washington State Supreme Court. This education funding issue will certainly be the battle royal in Washington State and the Governor has put energy and carbon squarely in the middle of it.
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