Heavy-handed policies could harm businesses, kill jobs

Here we go again. Last year, Seattle-centric legislators decided it would be a good idea to tax families on the engine size of their cars. The measure, Senate Bill 6900, would have charged the average family driving a pick-up truck an additional $400 in car tab tax per year. The aim of the proposal was to address “climate change” by discouraging folks from driving larger cars. Folks from the 7th District, including me, successfully fought to kill the bill.

This year, the bill may be different, but scheming ways to increase taxes under the guise of addressing climate change is the same. This year’s tax hike measure, House Bill 1819, was requested by the governor. Also called the “cap and trade” bill, it would create an incredibly complex system to regulate and tax businesses based on carbon emissions and manipulate individual behavior with higher fuel costs and vehicle taxes. It could also triple energy prices. Why anyone would want to push this job-killer through, especially in these tough times, is beyond me.

Has it escaped the supporters of new taxes that families are losing their homes and jobs? This bill would create financial hardships on families already stretched thin. The federal Congressional Budget Office estimates the effects of a cap and trade system will cost low-income families about $750 a year. I cannot support any bill that would raise taxes, increase fees or kill jobs in this fragile economy.

I call the governor’s proposal the “cap and tax” bill. It basically gives unprecedented and unrestrained powers to the Department of Ecology (DOE). The agency would have the authority to decide what rules, regulations and taxes should be put in place to force businesses and individuals to comply with House Bill 1819.

Giving the DOE unilateral control to implement costly rules and new taxes is bad policy and reeks of Chicago-style corruption. By the way, I hear Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is looking for work. Perhaps our governor could tap him to bring his “style” of politics to our state to enforce this heavy-handed cap and tax program.

Rural folks have seen enough “Chicken Little the-sky-is-falling-so-we-must-tax-you-more” types of environmental hysteria. Whether the latest eco-fad is about saving the last tree, spotted owl, wolf or snarter-darter, environmental groups and government agencies have an insatiable appetite for taking your money and using it to grow government bureaucracy.

In all of the governor’s rhetoric about the “green-jobs” her bill would create, no one, including the governor, has addressed the thousands of blue-collar jobs that will be lost if her bill passes. It’s an empty promise to say green-collar jobs will grow on trees if the cap and tax bill is passed. I have one question about all these green jobs: Will they pop up in our district before or after all the mills close and families are out of work and have lost their homes?

The fact is, the governor’s cap and tax bill begrudgingly admits there will be a negative financial impact on low- and fixed-income citizens. That seems to me to be a clear admission that it will also impact middle-class folks, which includes most of us. Her solution? Create more bureaucracy and a new entitlement program.

We can’t afford more of Seattle’s good ideas that hurt our rural communities the most. Taking money from citizens and businesses through this cap and tax scheme, or any other “climate change” boondoggle, to give it to government is not economic development – it’s wealth distribution.

Government should not be in the business of deciding winners and losers and her bill would do just that. Our country was made great through liberty and ingenuity, not government bureaucracy. I vote for a tea party. Who’s with me?

Folks who would like to weigh in on this bill can contact my office at (360) 786-7988 or e-mail me at kretz.joel@leg.wa.gov. The first hearing on House Bill 1819 was Feb. 3.

State Representative Joel Kretz, 7th Legislative District
425A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7988 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000