Bills introduced in the Alabama and Texas would levy taxes on pollution. The Alabama bill would charge 10¢/pound for emitting toxic substances—a tiny fine, but a step in the right direction. The Texas bill would raise $1.2 billion for schools by taxing pollution from coal-fired power plants and gas-guzzling vehicles.
I don’t know what the politics of either legislature are like, but I’d bet that neither bill has much of a chance of passing. But the Texas bill comes in an interesting context: the Texas governor has proposed raising “sin” taxes—specifically, on cigarettes and topless bars—to pay for education.
The wisdom of those specific proposals is, I’m sure, controversial. But the general principal—raising taxes on things that society wants less of—seems entrenched on both sides of the aisle. And for good reason, since the economics just make sense: when you tax something, you get less of it. More Northwestern legislators should consider following the good examples of their Southern counterparts.