Not content to simply choke off New England’s sputtering economic recovery, some politicians in Massachusetts and Rhode Island have now found a way to put energy security at risk as well – all as part of a “carbon tax” scheme that will hike the price of heating oil, gasoline and just about everything we buy.
Recent dramatic reductions in the price of oil and gas have been one of the few bright spots in the economy, putting a few extra dollars in the family budgets of millions of working families and helping drive the nation’s economic recovery.
Yet majority Democrats in the Rhode Island legislature – a state where commuters have few options other than the family car and where out-of-control home heating costs are already a big item in the household budget – want to add to the burden with a $15 per ton tax on carbon dioxide. They even want to put their new tax on autopilot, adjusting it upward along with inflation.
Repeated studies show that carbon taxes fall hardest on the working poor and those on fixed incomes. Not to worry, its authors told legislators at a March 10 hearing in Providence: we’ll return it to the needy with new subsidies – and we’ll use whatever is left over to create a new “Clean Energy Jobs Fund” that’ll put 1,000 new workers on the payroll. Sure – and unicorns will sprout wings so they can fly you to your job.
Those supporting the new tax were hard-pressed to answer concerns that a new and inflation-adjusted energy tax would likely not provide the benefits promised, but would instead impose a heavy burden on an already fragile economy. New England still lags in job growth and wages, but the few extra dollars folks have been able to save because of lower gas prices are catnip to a few politicians in Providence and Beacon Hill.
Among those who appeared in Providence to support the new tax was Mark Breslow, a key aide to former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick; Breslow is one of those pushing for a similar tax hike in Massachusetts.
Breslow and his Massachusetts tax hikers have concocted a scheme that begins at just $10 per ton, but that would jump by $5 a year until it reaches a whopping $40 per ton in eight years – an ever-increasing drag on jobs, economic growth and the family budgets of the Bay State for nearly the next decade.
The Rhode Island tax hike faces another hearing in the Environment and Natural Resources Committee before it can be sent to the full House for a vote. With a target adjournment of late June, Rhode Island’s carbon tax advocates will be pressed to compete with other, real priorities in the legislature in the few weeks remaining before the planned adjournment in late June.
Massachusetts’ legendary tax hikers have longer to work their mischief, since its legislature will remain in session until August.
In both places, voters need to keep a close eye on these unworkable carbon tax schemes, which will have devastating impacts on family budgets, job creation and economic growth – all while having virtually no impact on carbon emissions.
Stay tuned and watch this space.