Senator Marko Liias (D -Edmonds) is receiving serious criticism for his likely unconstitutional proposal to place a tax on fuel refined in Washington State before it is exported to neighboring states. And from his reaction to this criticism, it is very doubtful that an appointment to a diplomatic post is in his future.
The senator, in a radio interview on Thursday with KVI’s John Carlson, made the waters even muddier for himself by responding to the condemnation his ideas are receiving with personal attacks against his fellow Democrats. Such unprofessional behavior will likely only increase the tensions between Washington and its neighbors. Already legislators in Alaska, Idaho, and Oregon have responded to the “Liias tax” bill by proposing retaliatory taxes on items they send to Washington State.
Senator Liias, who is the new Chair of the Senate’s Transportation Committee (promoted after former Senator Steve Hobbs was appointed by Governor Inslee to become Secretary of State) was on the Carlson show attempting to defend his plan. The senator was questioned about the concerns which Oregon’s Democrat Governor Kate Brown expressed over with his tax, Senator Liias decided to act like a contestant on a reality game show by responding with a personal attack on Governor Brown. “The fact that she dare say a word is a joke. This governor down in Oregon is living in Fantasyland. She is in the last few months of her term. She is losing relevance. She is a lame duck. Obviously, she is grasping for something to stay in the headlines as her successor is being selected.”
This improper outburst will likely increase the tensions between the two states on this issue, and certainly won’t help the delicate negotiations over the funding of a new Columbia River bridge connecting Portland and Vancouver. It is interesting that Governor Jay Inslee has cancelled his press event on Thursday, where there was a slight possibility a member of the press might actually ask him about Senator Liias’ comments, and whether he agrees with him about his thoughts on Governor Brown..
The $2 billion which Senator Liias is hoping to collect from this unprecedented tax (6 cents on each gallon of gas) will go towards underwriting part of the Democrats’ $17 billion transportation bill. Billions more are taken from taxpayers through new and increased fees.
On the other hand, Republicans have put forth a transportation-funding mechanism which would remove the need to increase taxes on anyone. Republicans have suggested that dedicating the sales tax on vehicles sold to the transportation budget (instead of the general fund) would remove the need to increase any tax.