Gas Tax vs. Carbon Charge Debate Looms in Washington State

The Republican chair of the Senate Transportation Committee is considering an 11.5-cent gas tax increase, setting up a potential conflict with Gov. Jay Inslee's preference to apply a carbon charge to industrial emissions to fund transportation.

2 minute read

February 4, 2015, 8:00 AM PST

By Irvin Dawid

"Republican Curtis King, the chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, is looking at an 11.5-cent per gallon increase phased in over three years," writes Austin Jenkins, political reporter for the Northwest News Network. "It would help fund a $14 billion transportation package with projects on both sides of the Cascades." [Listen here.]

It’s been a decade since the last transportation package passed the Washington legislature. Pressure has been building on lawmakers to fund a new round of projects as well as maintenance and preservation of existing roads.

Should King proceed with a gas tax hike, it could set up a conflict with "Democratic Governor Jay Inslee (who) proposed a carbon-emissions charge on industrial emitters," writes Jenkins. A gas tax is the conventional means of funding transportation spending. Even in California, the only state to have a state-run carbon market that requires industries and, effective Jan.1, 2015, transportation fuel wholesalers, to purchase carbon allowances, revenues are not directed to the state Highway User Fund but to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.

However, as noted here in December, one motivation for the carbon charge was "that the governor has been trying to [raise the gas tax] unsuccessfully for the last two years (see here), so Inslee proposed (Dec. 16) to take a new approach."

Now that a key Republican may propose a comparable gas tax to the carbon charge in terms of revenue, will Inslee drop the cap-and-trade proposal?

Hat tip to AASHTO Daily Transportation Update

Friday, January 30, 2015 in KUOW

View of Mount Hood at golden hour with Happy Valley, Oregon homes in foreground.

Clackamas County Votes to Allow ADUs, Residential RVs

County officials hope the zoning changes will help boost the housing supply in the region.

June 18, 2024 - Mountain Times

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Aerial view of intersection in New York City with yellow cabs and zebra crosswalks.

Planners’ Complicity in Excessive Traffic Deaths

Professor Wes Marshall’s provocatively-titled new book, "Killed by a Traffic Engineer," has stimulated fierce debates. Are his criticisms justified? Let’s examine the degree that traffic engineers contribute to avoidable traffic deaths.

June 13, 2024 - Todd Litman

Two-story homes on residential street in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

British Columbia Cracks Down on Short-Term Rentals

Provincial leaders say the new rules could open up as many as 19,000 units for long-term rental.

June 20 - CTV

Small backyard cottage with gabled roof in San Diego, California.

San Diego Sees Continued Growth in ADU Permits

Recent changes to regulations have made it easier and more affordable for homeowners to build ‘granny flats,’ and San Diego’s housing stock is benefiting.

June 20 - Axios San Diego

Close-up of top of California state capitol dome with U.S. and California flags flying and blue sky in background.

California is Updating its Climate Adaptation Strategy

The 2024 draft plan outlines the state's key climate resilience priorities, includes specific and measurable actions, and serves as a framework for collective efforts across sectors and regions in California.

June 20 - California Natural Resources Agency

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.