If one Democrat governor gets her way, major employers in her state will be slapped with a carbon tax that is so high it exceeds the billion-dollar mark.
This week, Gov. Kate Brown and her Democrat allies in the Oregon legislature introduced their long-anticipated “cap and invest” bill. The legislation calls for sweeping regulations to cap greenhouse gas emissions and charge a tax penalty on the state’s largest contributors of carbon emissions.
How large of a tax fee?
While it’s difficult to determine the exact number before a finalized bill is sent to the governor’s desk and enacted, most estimate the penalty will extract around $1.4 billion per biennium from Oregon’s economy — risking the flight of numerous companies, and job losses for people in the state, according to The Oregonian.
Brown publicly introduced her idea of a large-scale carbon tax at the screening of Al Gore’s latest climate-alarmist movie, “An Inconvenient Sequel,” last summer.
“I think the rest of the world needs to see Americans, and Oregonians, standing up,” Brown told The New Yorker. “We must participate, and we must be part of the solution.”
Given the large Democrat majorities in both the Oregon state House and Senate, it is likely that the climate change bill will become law. Because of legislative rules, supporters of the proposal only need a simple majority in order to pass it through the legislature — not requiring a single Republican vote.
The bill, meant to emulate a state version of Paris climate agreement that President Donald Trump rejected, has garnered controversy for its lack of specificity, and raises questions over conflict of interest.
The Bend Bulletin, a local Oregon newspaper, eviscerated the proposal in a recent op-ed, suggesting it doesn’t answer basic questions regarding who exactly gets taxed.
“We might be considered old-fashioned, but before the Legislature passes a climate change bill, it should be clear which businesses will have to pay up and which get a pass,” the editorial began. “How much will that jack up the price of filling a gas tank? What will it do to the cost of health care or the price of groceries? Those questions are difficult to answer, but it’s likely going to raise prices for a lot of things.”
Despite months of preparation, neither Brown nor Democrat leaders in the state legislature can differentiate between the carbon emitters who will be penalized and those who will ostensibly get a pass.
Republican critics have not been any nicer.
“This $1.4 billion energy tax is more about creating a slush fund for special interests and crony capitalism than it is about sound public policy. This is a cavalier effort to pass yet another huge new tax that Oregonians simply cannot afford,” state Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, said in a statement to The Western Journal.
Buehler is the GOP front-runner to take on Brown in her re-election effort later this year. A Republican with an independent streak, Buehler is running as the fiscally minded alternative to the tax-happy governor.
“We need to recapture a sense of shared purpose in our government here in Oregon and move beyond the pursuit of power, privilege and position — this bill simply perpetuates the political dysfunction in our state,” the gubernatorial candidate continued.
Questions have also been raised about the necessity for such a carbon reduction bill given that The Beaver State is already an established leader in the country for eliminating carbon and lowering green-house gas emissions.
Buehler previously pointed to the fact that Oregon is currently the sixth-lowest in the U.S. for per-capita carbon dioxide emissions — the result of taxes and penalties Oregon residents are already shouldering. There is no apparent need for yet another tax bill.
Brown became governor in 2015, succeeding Democrat Gov. John Kitzhaber following his resignation amid a corruption scandal, and won the 2016 special election to occupy the office for the rest of the term. The far-left governor has gone on to push for a litany of tax hikes and make Oregon one of the most abortion-friendly states in the country.
Jason Hopkins is The Western Journal’s Washington, D.C., correspondent.
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