Gov. Jay Inslee delivered his State of the State address yesterday, touching on many topics but driving at just one main point: Inslee wants a broad new energy tax.
The address is one of the few bits of pomp and circumstance on Olympia’s annual calendar – and shows why no one is clamoring for more (‘We’re honored to have the distinguished honorary consul of Savrola here with us today’). The fluff – introductions, battalions of lawmakers ceremonially escorting statewide officials, etc. – takes longer than the speech itself, which clocked in at about 29 minutes.
And the speech was exactly what you’d expect from Jay Inslee. He ran down the leftist wishlist for the 2018 session: a “voting rights act,” automatic voter registration, allowing Election Day registration (and immediate voting), banning bump stocks, eliminating the death penalty, and adding further abortion protections in insurance regulations.
He reiterated his calls to spend $1 billion of reserve funds on teacher salaries this year, along with more mental health spending.
Just 59 days!
That the biggest chunk of Inslee’s speech was environment-focused is the least-surprising fact of all (though it continues to rank low when voters name their most important issues). His speech mentioned “clean” nine times, referenced “carbon” 16 times, and was complimented by his “friend” Al Gore.
It included heaping doses of Inslee’s trademark over-the-top optimism – referring to “Washington’s can-do spirit of confidence,” appealing to lawmakers that “this is who we are,” and foreseeing that “it is our state’s destiny – because of who we are – to defeat climate change.”
The speech loaded up on the climate alarmism, too:
“We have just 59 days to do our part to save our children from an endless cycle of crop-killing droughts one year and rivers spilling their banks the next. To save salmon from dying in ever-warming rivers and our forests from being reduced to plumes of ash.”
No wonder Al Gore loved it!
“Energy tax” and other things Inslee didn’t say
While he referred to it often, Inslee didn’t spell out for legislators the details of his “carbon pricing” plan, as he did for reporters Tuesday morning. He also didn’t call it an energy tax, even though that is precisely what it is.
It would mean higher gasoline prices, among other things, but unlike the gas tax it wouldn’t go to fund roads and highway improvements. Todd Myers of the Washington Policy Center wrote of its effect on gas prices, “The tax would start at 20 cents per gallon and increase about six percent per year (3.5% plus inflation). In 2029, the tax would be about 36 cents per gallon.”
Home electrical and natural gas prices, too, would rise under Inslee’s plan. NW News Network reported that the governor’s staff estimates “a 5 percent average increase in residential electricity prices and a 10 percent increase in residential natural gas prices.” Much of the revenue would be dedicated to subsidies for electric cars and solar panels, which overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy.
Inslee talks up the potential of clean energy jobs (and always mentions the carbon fiber plant in Moses Lake, as he did yesterday, but doesn’t note that it’s there because of clean, low-cost hydropower from dams, which his enviro allies want to rip out). He doesn’t acknowledge that his energy tax will cause job losses (but it will). Rep. Drew Stokesbary (R-Auburn) called it another example of Inslee picking “winners and losers.”
Rural Washington not so much ignored as directly insulted
Also notably unsaid by Inslee Tuesday was any call for lawmakers to fix the Hirst issue that is holding back the economies of Washington’s rural areas. The dispute left the capital budget unpassed last year, with Republicans refusing to vote for it unless Democrats offer rural residents a worthwhile Hirst fix. Since issuing bonds requires a 60% vote, Democrats do need Republican votes to pass a capital budget.
Inslee implored lawmakers to pass a capital budget, calling it “absolutely crucial” and “one of the first orders of business this session.” But he made no mention of the water rights dispute that led to the situation or appreciation of how Hirst is hurting rural Washington.
“If you want to help rural Washington…then do something about it and send this capital budget to my desk now,” Inslee said. And what about a Hirst fix, Jay? Inslee’s omission of any Hirst mention was intentional – and it was a poke in the eye to rural Washington. So much for “One Washington,” huh?