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“Party’s over”: First ballot initiative submits signatures, begins clean-up of hidden gas tax mess.

KENT, WA – Today, Washington voters delivered signatures to qualify the first of several initiatives to appear on the 2024 ballot. Washington residents tired of paying for legislative mistakes gathered at Jacksons Shell Station in Kent, WA to celebrate the submission of Initiative 2117 (I-2117) to repeal the hidden gas tax passed as part of the state’s cap and trade system.

“Lawmakers had their fun, but now it’s time for the adults to clean up the mess,” said Brian Heywood, founder of Let’s Go Washington, a citizen’s advocacy group leading the effort to fix policy messes through ballot initiatives. “It’s completely irresponsible to create what amounts to a triple tax to the cost of gas, heating, and groceries when inflation is already sending the daily cost of life through the roof. Jay Inslee said it would cost pennies. Then people saw their bills going up at the pump, at home and at the store. I can’t imagine a more out-of-touch policy.”

Let’s Go Washington reported submitting over 400,000 signatures to the Secretary of State on Tuesday, much more than the 324,526 required to qualify and with six weeks still to collect more signatures before the deadline. Let’s Go Washington is continuing to collect signatures for I-2117 and five other initiatives expected to qualify before the Dec. 29 deadline.

As reported by Todd Myers with the Washington Policy Center, “At this point it is unlikely that the Governor or legislators will take steps to reduce the burden of increasing energy costs on families and businesses. Denial and distraction are likely to be their preferred strategy. And energy costs will keep rising.”

Recent estimates show that Washington drivers are paying about 35 cents more per gallon of gas at the pump due to the tax on emissions through the state cap and trade system. The Department of Ecology’s own estimates predict the prices will continue to go up for the next six years, reaching a dollar a gallon. In total, Washington drivers are now paying more than a dollar per gallon in taxes on gasoline.

Washington’s failure to meet carbon reduction goals over the past decade results in increased prices for carbon credits in the cap-and-trade system meaning Washington taxpayers pay 80 percent more than California for the same level of carbon reduction. The failure to contain costs has been so damaging that the Attorney General’s Office worked with the Utilities and Transportation Commission to hide the costs from voters by forcing energy companies to hide new charges from the program on energy bills.

“Making Washington residents pay for the state’s mismanagement of the environment is just a cynical ploy to pass along responsibility for failed policy,” said Heywood. “Meanwhile, the money taken from the wallets of consumers is being used to give to politicians’ friends and allies without accountability for actual environmental clean-up. The party’s over. We’re fixing this mess.”

Let’s Go Washington continues to gather signatures for all six initiatives at having already collected over 2.2 million signatures from Washington voters. Supporters are encouraged to return any signatures and continue signing all of the initiatives through the Dec. 29 deadline.