Wilson says ‘no’ to bill that would hike fuel costs

OLYMPIA… Sen. Lynda Wilson says she couldn’t support the Senate Democrats’ “cap-and-tax” bill Thursday evening because it doesn’t offer a measurable return on the massive cost it represents to Washington’s families and economy. Senate Bill 5126 passed with the minimum 25 votes, all from Democrats.

“There’s no question that this legislation would increase fuel costs, and there’s also no question that higher fuel costs raise the cost of most everything – both goods and services. Yet the people of Washington wouldn’t see a noticeable improvement in their air quality as a result. This bill may check a box for the governor and some in the majority but it’s a bad deal for the people of our state, especially those in communities that have been traditionally marginalized.”

SB 5126 is one of the two big new taxes wrapped into the Senate operating budget that was passed April 1. The other is the tax on income from capital gains, approved by the Senate Democrats more than a month ago.

“The cap-and-tax bill isn’t a direct tax, like the income tax. But it sure would function as a tax, if it becomes law – as a gas tax that does nothing to maintain or improve our roads,” said Wilson, who is Republican leader on the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

“This bill is among the most complicated pieces of policy I’ve seen come through the Senate. The text alone is 58 pages long, and the “fiscal note,” which details the financial effects of the proposal, is 113 pages long. It reminds me of what the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives said about the passage of the Affordable Care Act – about needing to pass the bill so we know what’s in it!”

“SB 5126 also would give the Department of Ecology a tremendous amount of control over our economy, and it won’t have the promised environmental benefits as long as other nations like China continue their current practices,” Wilson explained.

“But my bigger concern is about the people on the receiving end of this policy. They need to realize the cap-and-tax bill is expected to cause an instant 26-cent increase in the price of a gallon of gas. Couple that with the passage of House Bill 1091, the high-cost fuel standard legislation, and you can add another 29 cents per gallon!

“Because this policy functions as a regressive tax, it would be terribly hard on those in historically marginalized communities – poor people, rural residents, and communities of color. I didn’t hear the proponents of the bill admit any of those things. If they want to pile on the members of those communities, that’s on them – leave me out,” Wilson said.