Jay Inslee did not show up to testify before the House Environment Committee’s hearing on his cap-and-tax scheme yesterday. Our green governor spent the last two years championing an extreme “green” agenda—including a cap-and-tax scheme—yet did not defend his signature budget proposal before lawmakers. Inslee would not obligate himself to defend what he called a “moral obligation” when it, arguably, counted most.
We’re not quite sure why Inslee refrained from appearing before the committee—it is not as if he would have faced a room full of hostile lawmakers. Democrat Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, sponsor of the cap-and-tax bill, kicked off the hearing by eagerly listing off all of Inslee’s favorite talking points. But, we assume it had something to do with how legislators in general reacted to Inslee’s cap-and-tax scheme.
As Shift reported, Inslee’s cap-and-tax scheme is the poster child of a “dead on arrival” policy. Inslee’s cap-and-tax bill only garnered 37 co-sponsors (all Democrats) in the Democrat-controlled state House—a testament to the lack of support his policy has even among members of his own party. In fact, there are not enough Democrat co-sponsors in the House to pass Inslee’s proposal out of the Transportation Committee itself (only 11 supporters of 25 members), let alone pass it on the floor.
The lack of enthusiasm Inslee showed toward the opportunity to defend his cap-and-tax scheme is also perhaps due to an even bigger battle fast approaching—his fuel mandate. Inslee knew his cap-and-tax scheme would die in the Legislature, why bother to defend a dead on arrival policy? The reality is that Inslee’s cap-and-tax scheme is the smoke screen he needs to distract the public from an unpopular fuel mandate he plans to force through by executive order. In 2013, Inslee promised partners in the Pacific Coast Collaborative that he would to implement a fuel mandate in 2015. And, unlike his numerous no-new-taxes campaign promises, it’s a promise Inslee means to keep.