For a few years I served as the program director for the UU Church of the Monterey Peninsula where, at the beginning of December, this angel travels from the library to preside over the sanctuary and all its festivities. It will probably be making its return trip this week. From the late 50's until 1970, when she and about 87 other dark haired, dark skinned angels were discarded or repainted and replaced with blond, blue-eyed angels, she decorated the streets of Monterey for Christmas. For me, she illustrates the moving words of theologian and civil rights leader Howard Thurmond who said that the real work of Christmas comes after the celebration. Among the work that he identified are finding the lost, healing the broken, feeding the hungry, releasing the prisoners, rebuilding and bringing peace. As citizen lobbyists we must truly take this call to act on our values to heart. In 2015 we must be full-throat in fighting for UU values for much that we hold dear is threatened in this Legislative session. Read on for an analysis of carbon controls and budget challenges.
Governor Inslee's cap and trade carbon pricing system is said to raise $1 billion per year and is the centerpiece of both his budget and his climate change policy.
Here's some details:
- As with all pollution and programs that address pollution, low income folks are hit the hardest. In Seattle folks who live in lower income South Seattle, for instance, live on average 13 fewer years than those who live in North Seattle.
- Of the $1 billion in revenue $380 million goes to education and is targeted to closing the learning gap.
- Transportation, chiefly public transit and energy efficient autos, get $400 million
- $120 million is split between funding the Working Families Tax Rebate, passed several years ago and never funded, and the Public Housing Trust Fund.
- Industries, chiefly forestry and manufacturers, that are deemed vulnerable because of the changes will receive $40 million.
- Both British Columbia and California have passed legislation to deal with pollution - California, cap and trade and BC, a revenue neutral carbon tax.
This is a complex issue. Here's some reading for a fuller view:
- Gov. Inslee's plan.
- Sightlines supports it.
- So does the Washington Environmental Council
- The Seattle Times, no so much
- CarbonWA, which is readying a Carbon Tax Initiative, if this proposal fails, discusses the political climate.
We have hedged our bets by supporting both the Governor's proposal and the Carbon Tax Initiative.
The Budget and Education - A Crucible
Sometimes when it seems that we are between a rock and a hard place, we become desperate enough to make hard and necessary changes. We grow; we transform, even. The heat is really turned up on the legislature this year as they are forced to deal with funding for education. Perhaps, if we aggressively lobby for what we hold dear, we can influence them to bring about basic change in how we fund our state budget so that it is fairer and more up-to-date.
The Governor's proposal had one bold step toward a fairer tax structure with his capital gains tax. Here are some facts about this budget:
- Our state has the most inequitable tax structure in the country. We are worse than Mississippi or Alabama.
- With the McCleary decision and the lowering of classroom sizes our budget shortfall for the biennium is projected to be about $4.5 billion.
- The sales tax is not only grossly unfair, because of basic shifts in the economy over they years, it is dwindling as a source of revenue.
- About 60% of the solution involves $1.6 billion in tax increases
- Other factors are cuts and fund shifts and use of reserves.
- Inslee and the supporters of this budget say that it invests in Washington.
- There is $2.3 billion in new investments in education, upgrading our mental health facilities, wage increases for state workers, added staff for child protective services.
- Less than 1% of Washington taxpayers would pay the proposed capital gains excise tax.
- Other tax strategies include closing tax loopholes for out-of-state shoppers and oil refineries and increasing taxes on cigarettes and e-cigarettes.
Information on cuts will be in another post.
Here's what you can do:
- Send your legislators an email, introducing yourself, if you haven't talked with them and introducing our key issues.
- Sign up to be an Instant Response Lobbyist. You will receive quick information about lobbying needed with key talking points and you commit to responding within 24 hours.
Please add what you know about the budget or carbon pricing in the comments below. You can also start your own blog post above. We need to help one another if we are to be most effective.