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Carbon tax wouldn’t be included in pay-per-mile

(File, Associated Press)

If (more likely when) the state establishes a pay-per-mile program to replace its gas tax, Jay Inslee’s proposed carbon tax may not be calculated into the road usage charge rate.

RELATED: Pollution a ‘better thing to tax’

“We have not seen any details on the governor’s proposal, so I can’t say for sure how this might work until we get more information and can analyze it,” Washington State Transportation Commission Executive Director Reema Griffith wrote in an email. “But, generally speaking, if the revenue from the carbon tax is not used for roads like the gas tax is, then the carbon tax amount will not be included in the per mile RUC (road usage charge) rate.”

Of course, drivers will still feel the effects of the carbon tax at the pump. Gov. Inslee’s proposal would levy a $20-per-ton price on emissions. That would be passed on to drivers.

Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon says it would raise gas prices as high as 20 additional cents per gallon.

State Senator Doug Erickson says, “It’s a death tax on manufacturing. A death blow to working families. It equates to a 20 cent gas tax increase on the first day.”

The tax on gas would increase year over year, he said.

The money would be used for wildfire prevention, clean-energy programs, and floodwater management, Fitzgibbon said.

“It reinvests the proceeds into critical needs for our state,” he said.

The state is preparing to launch a pilot program to study pay-per-mile in Washington. It would replace the gas tax, which is no longer a stable source of transportation funding due to fuel-efficient vehicles.

“We’re going to have to make a switch to something, and if it’s not this we just say, then what?” Griffith previously told KIRO Radio. “The revenue has to come from somewhere for our infrastructure, and we’re talking billions and billions of dollars. It’s not a small amount of money.”

In a report that details the money needed to fix I-5 and other aging infrastructure, pay-per-mile is top of the list on revenue sources.

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