Want to help Washington State adopt a revenue-neutral carbon tax?


Want to help Washington State adopt a revenue-neutral carbon tax?

Editor’s note: CCL continues to be focused on a national policy for a revenue-neutral carbon fee, however, we understand many of our volunteers are excited about the initiative in Washington state and may wish to help out.

By Yoram Bauman

This November, voters in Washington State have a chance to adopt a revenue-neutral carbon tax by passing Initiative 732. Grassroots activists — including many affiliated with local CCL chapters — helped gather 360,000 signatures last year to qualify I-732 for the ballot. That grassroots energy is now focused on voter outreach, including phone-banking that CCL activists across the country can help with!

Inspired by the terrific carbon tax in British Columbia, I-732’s carbon tax phases in to $25 per ton of CO2 and then goes up slowly over time. The revenue goes to reduce the state sales tax by a full point, reduce business taxes on manufacturers to address competitiveness concerns, and fund a Working Families Rebate that will provide up to $1,500 a year to 460,000 low-income households in Washington State.

The I-732 campaign considered a CCL-style dividend approach, but, unfortunately, dividends appear to run afoul of a quirk in the state constitution. Happily, the Working Families Rebate and the sales tax reduction will combine to yield the biggest improvement in terms of progressivity for the state tax system since 1977.

The Sightline Institute, an independent think-tank based in Seattle, recently did an in-depth analysis of I-732 (Part 1Part 2Part 3) and concluded that “Initiative 732 does exactly what the scientists and economists prescribe” and that it would “give Washington the continent’s, if not the world’s, most potent, persistent, and comprehensive incentive to move swiftly beyond dirty fossil fuels and to a carbon-free future.”

CCL supporters should be aware that the I-732 campaign has encountered some opposition from groups on the left, including environmental groups, who are committed to a revenue-positive approach. With help from Audubon Washington, however, the I-732 campaign is building bipartisan support that includes endorsements from state legislators on both sides of the aisle and national figures, include George Shultz and Jim Hansen, both of whom are members of CCL’s Advisory Board.

Polling shows that we have a path to victory if we can connect with voters and tell them our simple message: that we have a moral obligation to take action on climate change and that I-732 is a smart approach to climate action that works for households and businesses across the state.

Now that the election is nearing, CCL supporters around the country can help the I-732 effort by participating in our phone-banking campaign to reach 1 million Washington State voters before election day. Imagine how powerful it will be for voters in Washington State to receive a phone call saying, “Hi, I’m Pam and I volunteer with Citizens Climate Lobby. I’m calling to encourage you to support Initiative 732 this November because it’s urgent that we take action on climate change to protect our kids and families.”

See the rest of our recommended script here and note that it includes a plug for local CCL chapters so that state-level action can build to national action!

Email campaign co-director Kyle Murphy (gro.a1627377406wnobr1627377406ac@el1627377406yk1627377406) with questions or to schedule a remote training. The gist of it is that phone-banking is made quick and easy – and free of long-distance charges for users in the U.S. and Canada! – using the Callfire system. Simply connect through the Internet (instructions here) and Callfire will call your phone and then connect you with voters. It will automatically leave a message if there is no answer.

Yoram Bauman is the founder and co-chair of Carbon Washington/Yes on 732. He has a PhD in economics from the University of Washington and is “the world’s first and only stand-up economist.”

Steve Valk
Steve Valk is Communications Coordinator for Citizens' Climate Lobby. Steve joined the CCL staff in 2009 after a 30-year career with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter at @valklimate.