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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 18, 2009 at 1:58 PM

Washington state Legislature

Something better than cap-and-trade

Your Sunday editorial [“Green bill hits red light,” Opinion, March 15] urges the Legislature to continue Washington’s momentum on reducing greenhouse gases. You imply our only choice is the proposed cap-and-trade system or nothing, and overlook the primary alternative: a straightforward tax on carbon.

Unlike cap-and-trade, a carbon tax could begin immediately, sets a predictable price, requires no new bureaucracy and involves no impenetrable auction schemes. It is preferred by most economists and some industry leaders, including Exxon’s CEO.

Our friends in British Columbia already have a carbon tax, and several bills are before Congress. Rep. John B. Larson, D-Conn., has introduced a bill that would tax carbon producers at $15 per ton, increasing steadily each year. Nearly all revenue would return to the public in lower payroll taxes.

In response to those who say we need a cap on emissions, this bill sets annual benchmarks on total emissions leading to reduction of 80 percent by 2050. If we aren’t on track to achieve those benchmarks, the tax could be raised further.

Washington should lead the region by adopting a carbon tax as the most effective way to begin dramatically cutting emissions to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

— Dorothy Craig, Seattle

Tuition surcharge just another tax

I was extremely disappointed to read that Gov. Christine Gregoire is proposing instituting a 3- to 7-percent tuition surcharge in addition to the 7-percent increase scheduled to go into effect soon [“Extra university fee proposed,” page one, March 18].

While she consistently promised no new taxes or fees, her attempt to claim this charge is not a fee is insulting to the citizens of this state.

In addition, this surcharge is also an attempt to circumvent the promise of the Guaranteed Education Tuition Program (GET) offered by the state. GET promises that if you buy GET credits now, it will cover the increased cost of tuition in the future.

Currently the annual “fees” range from $500 to $1,300 at state schools and are not counted as part of the tuition increases. Those fees can be absorbed by using GET credits but that reduces the purchasing power of the credits.

By imposing another significant fee, the value of the GET program is further degraded.

The governor needs to reduce spending, not waste time coming up with new synonyms for tax increases.

— Dan Devaux, Lake Tapps

Comments | More in Cap-and-trade, Higher education, Washington Legislature

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