Friday, February 23, 2018

Carbon tax is a good idea, but politically it is even hard to raise enough gas tax to maintain the roads

A carbon tax is a good way to reduce global warming. A few places are starting to get carbon taxes including some provinces in Canada.

Governor Inslee would like to see a carbon tax in Washington State which the legislature is discussing. It's a hard sell, politically. For gasoline, it would be like a gas tax. I got to thinking that it's politically hard to even raise the gas tax enough to keep the roads and bridges in good repair.

Sometimes I gain insight from what Republican lawmakers say. A Republican state lawmaker, interviewed on Pullman Radio, said that she didn't feel the gas tax would go over well if people didn't even see road improvements from it. Kind of like a tax for what?

Most carbon tax proposals would pay out not necessarily in road improvements, but other areas such as cuts in other taxes like the high Washington State sales tax. Another idea would be Governor Inslee's plan to use some of that money to fill the gap created by the State Supreme Court ruling for funding education.

A tax is a hard sell, even if it goes to very visible and tangible road improvements. Ideally, maybe it would go to "transportation improvements," rather than just roads. Public transit, bike paths and so forth. Such a tax did pass, a few years back, here in Bellingham. Bellingham prop. 1 transportation improvement tax which went to bring back Sunday bus service and do other improvements with some emphasis on bicycles. That did pass within the fairly liberal city limits of Bellingham in 2010.

We do need infrastructure and how is that to be paid for? More deficit spending? How about taxes so it can be pay as you go? How about combining the justification for a carbon tax with that for infrastructure? Raise the gas tax and call it a carbon tax. Get better roads and bridges. Use some of the money for bike paths and public transit. Some car drivers will complain about even that diversion of funds, but better transit does mean less traffic thus helping the cars also.

I guess a true carbon tax would also include other forms of fossil fuel besides gasoline; like, for instance, natural gas used in electricity production. Well, we need infrastructure improvements to the power grid also. How do we pay for that? A carbon tax.

Another big use of fossil fuel is heating and manufacturing. I guess agriculture as well. Okay, we need to fund environmental cleanup. Where does the toxic waste "super fund" cleanup money come from? In Washington I think some of that comes from a tax on our oil refineries.

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