Group challenges I-1631 title

Carbon tax to costly, sets up fights for funds

— Citing the importance of transparency with voters, the Association of Washington Business filed a ballot title challenge to Initiative 1631 on Tuesday, March 27.

I-1631 would impose a new carbon fee on Washington employers, if approved by voters.

The measure would charge employers a beginning price of $15 per metric ton of carbon emissions, with the fee rising $2 (approximately 2 cents per gallon) annually plus inflation.

It would also create a new layer of government, establishing an oversight board made up of people from different interest groups to decide where and how to spend the revenue.

The board would be given wide latitude over how to spend the money, making it unclear exactly how it would be used.

According to the Association, though, the official I-1631 ballot title, issued last week by the State Attorney General’s Office, fails to mention several important elements of the measure. Those omissions include the new, unelected board it would create and that the carbon price would rise every year plus inflation.

The title also uses the imprecise term “pollution fee” to describe what the business group argues is in fact a price on carbon emissions.

The association has not taken a position on I-1631 but believes it’s important the ballot title and summary be accurate.

“We think it’s important that voters who are asked to sign the petition for I-1631 know what they’re signing,” AWB President Kris Johnson said. “This is about transparency.

Voters have the right to know that I-1631 will set a price on carbon emissions, that it will go up every year and that a new, unelected group of people representing different interest groups will be the ones deciding how and where to spend the money it generates, not their elected officials.”

The Attorney General’s Office issued the official title last week.

Backers must submit approximately 250,000 signatures by July 6 to get the initiative on the November ballot.


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