Gov. Inslee’s climate package would cap greenhouse gas emissions, implement a clean fuel standard, and partially fund the working families tax credit

By: Emily Makings
9:08 am
December 16, 2020

Yesterday, Gov. Inslee announced a package of climate proposals, as part of his 2021-23 budget proposals. (On Monday he announced $365 million for an equity policy package.)

His climate proposal includes:

  • A cap on greenhouse gas emissions, with revenues from selling emission allowances going to a new climate investment account. “Funds from the account would go towards clean transportation, natural climate resilience solutions, clean energy transition and assistance, and emissions reduction projects.”
  • A clean fuel standard that would be fully implemented in 2035. According to the governor, this would have “a negligible impact on fuel pricing.”
  • $230 million to electrify buses and ferries and fund charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.
  • $141 million in the capital budget to meet greenhouse gas limits in residential and commercial buildings.
  • $100 million for clean energy technologies.
  • Creation of the “Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory Panel” to recommend uses for climate investment account funds. Additionally, there is “funding for dedicated environmental justice staff at state agencies, including the Department of Ecology, Department of Commerce, Puget Sound Partnership and the Department of Natural Resources.”

At the governor’s press conference yesterday, Jim Camden of the Spokesman-Review asked Gov. Inslee if there is a list of the companies that would be subject to the emission cap. Gov. Inslee said,

I don’t know if we have a list. We’ve had ones in the past. I will provide in future weeks a more acute description of those and we’re happy to do that when we have that. I may note that we’ve also designed this in a way that will not make us uncompetitive from a trade perspective. We’re alert to that. We’re going to keep jobs here in the state of Washington.

The governor didn’t say how much the sale of allowances is expected to raise. Apparently, the emission allowances proceeds would also fund “part” of the working families tax credit. As Gov. Inslee noted at the press conference, the working families tax credit was passed by the Legislature in 2008 but never funded. (It was a casualty of the Great Recession.)

Technically, the credit is an exemption from the state sales tax. It is still on the books, but it must be included in the operating budget before the exemption may be claimed. Under the statute, Washington residents who receive the federal earned income tax credit would receive a remittance of sales tax equal to a percentage of their federal earned income tax credit. In 2019, the Department of Revenue estimated that remittances under the program would total about $113 million a year if it were funded.

Categories: Budget , Economy , Energy & Natural Resources.
Tags: 2021-23