The “Poison Pill” and the Carbon Tax
The transportation bill passed by the Washington State Senate contains an infamous “poison pill” provision that would move public transit and other multi-modal funding to the roads account if the state passes a low carbon fuel standard. (See http://www.thestand.org/2015/03/fix-fatal-flaws-in-transportation-package/ for background.)
The poison pill was inserted by State Senate Republicans to please the Koch Brothers and other fossil fuel industry backers of the GOP, as well as to stymie Governor Inslee’s green energy agenda.
Late last month, Governor Inslee agreed to existence of the poison pill as a condition for getting a deal made.
But the state House needs to agree on identical language. So far, some progressive House members are refusing to accept the poison pill, while some Republican House members are refusing to go along with the 11.7 cent rise in the gas tax. See Solving or At Least Understanding the Gridlock in Olympia for details.
(By the way, the budget and transportation package agreed to by the Senate raise taxes on the poor and the middle class, while not raising taxes on the coddled rich.)
But if the poison pill is the only blocker for the progressives, perhaps they should relent, because there’s an excellent alternative that appears not to be subject to the poison pill. The revenue neutral carbon tax promoted by CarbonWA, with bipartisan support, is not a low carbon fuel standard and so apparently wouldn’t trigger the fund transfer.
CarbonWA and its supporters are gathering signatures for initiative I-732 that they hope will appear on the November, 2016 ballot. There are many reasons why a carbon tax makes more sense than Cap and Trade or a Low Carbon Fuel Standard.