It seems as though Gov. Jay Inslee wants the people of Washington to pay for his political pursuits.
If not, why is he pressing for a massive tax on energy that will end up costing taxpayers in the form of larger power bills? Why is he again championing legislation that his own party has failed to support in the past?
The governor’s proposal for a carbon tax isn’t surprising. He’s been crisscrossing the globe for years — ironically leaving a trail of carbon behind him — on what sure seems like a political journey meant to boost his national profile by linking his name to the hot-button issue of climate activism.
The merits of climate change aside, Inslee has carried out this self-assigned mission at the expense of rural areas such as Lewis County. We appreciate the attention he has given the issue of chronic flooding in the Chehalis River Basin, but even that was provoked by his belief that climate change will worsen the condition.
As has become normal, he’s been unable to show leadership when it comes to helping the people of Washington who exist outside the blazing blue confines of King County and surrounding areas dominated by the liberal progressive mindset.
There has been little attention from the governor’s office on a number of issues of importance to rural areas, including the Hirst Decision, which threatens to halt economic development by greatly increasing the cost of obtaining water rights.
At the end of the previous legislative session, Inslee pushed aside a bipartisan agreement between Democrats and Republicans that would have lowered the business and occupation tax for manufacturers by 40 percent. That tax break would have provided a huge financial boost to businesses right here in Lewis County and in other rural enclaves throughout the state.
It was estimated that the measure would have benefitted 10,000 manufacturers in total.
What did Inslee do? He vetoed it.
“We just spent months coming up with a very complicated deal,” state Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, said in an interview after the veto. “I think this makes future negotiations virtually impossible, frankly.”
So now here we are, less than a year later, and Inslee is looking to increase the cost of doing business as part of his climate change crusade.
We have no issue with his interest and activism on the topic when it’s not at the expense of taxpayers, but that is unfortunately not often the case.
His own advisers told reporters this week that his carbon tax would hit residents and businesses right in the pocketbook to the tune of an increase in electricity rates of 4 to 5 percent, a spike in natural gas of about 9 to 11 percent, and a 5 to 6 percent hike for gasoline.
The stated goal is to reduce carbon and protect the environment. That’s all well and good until you consider Washington is already one of the greenest states in the country. Beyond that, the private sector is already working to reduce emissions.
Like so many others, Inslee believes there’s no problem the government can’t fix if enough of your money is thrown at it, and, as usual, he’s completely wrong.
The Association of Washington Business aptly described the dangers of Inslee’s latest move in a press release earlier this week in which the organization noted the progress of the private sector and the potential financial dangers the carbon tax poses to the public.
“We should all be sensitive that the governor’s carbon tax would also hit middle-class families especially hard because manufacturing and trade sectors, which support good-paying, family wage jobs, could be impacted,” the AWB wrote. “Our focus, as the central Puget Sound region’s economy booms, should be to preserve and grow jobs outside of metropolitan areas, many of which are centralized in trade-dependent and globally competitive industries.”
Inslee is once again acting as the chief executive of Washington in a way that ignores rural areas such as Lewis County. While Inslee has been quick and fierce in his constant criticism of President Donald Trump, he’s been slow to act when it comes to making sure the rest of the state keeps up with the economic boom of Seattle and other metropolitan areas that put him in office.
Perhaps that’s because he’s hoping to get Trump’s job.
We’d rather he make use of his time in office to do his own job in a way that doesn’t harm small businesses and the prospects of rural residents.