I have a simple proposal for closing the budget gap: Increase gas taxes by $1 per gallon.
With current gasoline prices, this would likely bring us back to gas prices we were seeing a few years back and would provide benefits that would last a lifetime.
Higher prices mean: reduced gas consumption, resulting in lower CO2 levels; decreased risk of oil spills; increased use of our underused light-rail investment; adoption of alternative-energy options and resultant jobs; and more money lining our government’s pockets instead of corrupt regimes.
According to a 2008 report on gas consumption from the Sightline Institute, Washington state drivers consume approximately 2.6 billion gallons of gas per year. Bingo! 2.6 billion times $1 equals a closed budget gap. The average person’s weekly gas consumption is 7.9 gallons, so the personal hit will average $32 per month—that’s less than a latte a day. Imagine the precedent this would set for the state and the country.
—Jon Lisbin, Seattle
We didn’t have anything to do with the LTE. But it’s a clever comparison, and it certainly puts the state’s “massive” budget gap in context. When oil companies increase prices, we pony up with only a bit of grumbling. So if we’re willing to spend a buck a gallon mostly to bolster oil companies’ bottom lines, why shouldn’t we be willing to spend the same amount to shore up the vital community services that boost our quality of life?