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Monday, March 30, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Editorial

Editorial: Editorial Roundup: Carbon pricing becomes scrambled

The following are abridged versions of Northwest editorials. They don’t necessarily reflect the view of The Spokesman-Review’s editorial board.

The Olympian (Olympia, Wash.), March 1:

The future of carbon pricing in Washington is looking very scrambled. An initiative that collected enough signatures to send a carbon tax to the Legislature, and then the fall ballot, seemed finally to break the political stalemate.

But now it’s become clear that Initiative 732 is flawed. Joe Ryan, a co-chair of the campaign, told the Seattle Times last week that an $800 million tax break for sales of airplanes by Boeing and others was mistakenly included.

Ryan and others on the I-732 board still insist their measure doesn’t create a deficit, even with the inadvertent aircraft tax break. But they say lawmakers should offer voters a ballot alternative that eliminates that tax break; such an alternative would eliminate the lion’s share of a $915 million net shortfall in state revenues that the Department of Revenue says I-732 would create if approved by voters.

I-732 imposes a $25 per ton tax on the carbon content of fossil fuels, which increases over time. The measure uses that revenue to cut the state share of the sales tax by a penny, reducing it to 5.5 cents per dollar; it spends other revenues on a tax rebate for low-income working families in a state program that is similar to the Earned Income Tax Credit. It also reduces manufacturing taxes.

State lawmakers, divided along partisan lines over global warming as well as over taxes, have been reluctant to fix the initiative. So it’s a long shot assumption that they will do right and provide an alternative for the November ballot.

Putting an alternative to I-732 on the ballot makes sense. By abdicating, lawmakers will have only themselves to blame when (Gov. Jay) Inslee moves ahead with a carbon cap, or a hard-hitting citizen initiative arises to combat global warming.

Moscow-Pullman Daily News, March 2:

Those arguing for the benefits federal ownership of public land provides residents of Western states – compared to private ownership of those same lands – have another bullet in their chamber thanks to a study from Headwaters Economics. This independent, nonpartisan organization researched counties in 11 Western states, including Latah and Whitman counties.

The study found that rural counties with the highest proportion of federal land tend to have faster growth than those with less federal land.

“Growth” includes population, jobs and per capita income. The Palouse fits this trend with Latah County showing more growth and more federal land than Whitman County.

Economist Paul Jakus said one factor behind this is that counties with a large proportion of private land tend to rely more on agriculture, thus the slow growth. But the study does contradict assertions that federal land inhibits the economy.

This, in addition to providing places to hike, fish, camp, hunt and just enjoy.

We hope lawmakers continue to be fearful of attempts to pry land in Idaho away from the federal government. Growing evidence shows there are more downsides than proponents want to admit.

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