Thursday, January 4, 2018
OLYMPIA Are you ready for the state to add another dollar to the price of gasoline? A local legislator says that just may be the case.
Gov. Jay Inslee’s big legislative push this year will be for a carbon tax, political pundits and Republicans agree.
But even though Inslee has majorities in the House and Senate, he will encounter a fight over the mere idea.
“I don’t support one bit of it. I think it’s all pseudo-science,” said Republican State Rep. David Taylor of Moxee as he got into his car for the drive to the opening day of the legislative session on Monday.
Sunnyside State Sen. Jim Honeyford and State Rep. Bruce Chandler, both Republicans, will fight alongside Taylor.
Chandler said the session will start at 10 a.m. Monday with mostly routine stuff. It will hear from Inslee on Tuesday.
“What’s important to me is what’s important to my constituents,” he said.
Big issues that remain from last year are the Supreme Court’s McCleary (education) and Hirst (water) decisions, Chandler said.
The big new issue will be the carbon tax, which is supported by environmentalists all over.
Taylor said his last reading of the Democrat proposal is that the tax would be applied in several ways. He said there is a potential for raising the price of gasoline by more than $1 per gallon.
Chandler sees a way to stop the carbon tax. It is an election year, and those opposed should make it an election battle cry.
Chandler noted this legislature, with razor-thin majorities for the Democrats, has several young and/or new members.
“They’re going to be thinking about re-election,” he said.
Taylor doesn’t quite agree, saying: “They certainly could ram it through.”
Taylor believes Inslee will make the big push in the Senate, which is friendlier to Inslee than the House.
On the other hand, Taylor said: “There are several fairly significant constitutional questions.”
Regarding the Hirst decision that affects water and which Republicans used to hold up the state’s capital budget, Chandler doesn’t see a solution this year.
“The solution that will get the votes to pass is eluding all of us right now,” he said.
Republicans want the legislature to undo the Supreme Court’s decision. Their fix passed the House last year but stalled in the Senate.
In retaliation, Republicans held up a Senate vote on the capital budget. Planned capital projects have been waiting a year.
The legislature will deal with the McCleary decision, in which the court demanded full funding of public education by the state while leaving the meaning of full funding open.
The Court has been satisfied with the legislature’s response but it still demanding more money for teachers.
Chandler said the legislature will have to consider some tax provisions to balance the current biennial budget.
“The governor vetoed several tax provisions. That caused a deficit in the budget,” he said. “We’re fortunate revenues are coming in stronger than we expected. The fixes won’t have to be as big as we anticipated.”
One more important item for Chandler is to keep an eye on the working group that deals with the Yakima Basin Integrated Water Plan.
Regarding the governor getting his supplemental budget, Chandler said: “It depends on how ambitious (Democrats) want to be.”