Fiscal impact analyses of ballot initiatives now available

The Office of Financial Management has published fiscal impact statements for the five ballot initiatives to be voted on in November.

Fiscal impact statements 

  • Initiative 940 – AN ACT Relating to law enforcement. 
  • Initiative 940B – AN ACT Relating to law enforcement. 
  • Initiative 1631 – AN ACT Relating to reducing pollution by investing in clean air, clean energy, clean water, healthy forests, and healthy communities by imposing a fee on large emitters based on their pollution.
  • Initiative 1634 – AN ACT Relating to the taxation of groceries.  
  • Initiative 1639 – AN ACT Relating to increasing public safety by implementing firearm safety measures, including requiring enhanced background checks, waiting periods, and increased age requirements for semiautomatic assault rifles and secure gun storage for all firearms; prescribing penalties; and providing effective dates.

Two of the measures directly affect tax policy: Initiative 1631 the carbon fee (tax) and Initiative 1634, the food and soda tax. Here’s what OFM says about each of them (just giving you the summary statement here; the statements are more detailed).

Initiative 1631 imposes a pollution fee on large emitters of greenhouse gases. The fee will raise $2,228,373,000 during the first five fiscal years. The additional Utilities and Transportation Commission regulatory fee will raise $9,685,072 during the first five fiscal years. A public oversight board is established to supervise revenue expenditures to reduce carbon pollution, promote clean energy and address climate impacts to the environment and communities. Twelve state agencies and two higher education institutions are estimated to expend $27,178,592. The remaining expenditures cannot be estimated until the public board approves investment plans. Local government expenditures are estimated to be $158,623,072.


Initiative 1634 prohibits new or increased local taxes, fees or assessments on raw or processed foods, beverages or their ingredients, intended for human consumption except alcoholic beverages, marijuana products and tobacco, unless they are generally applicable and meet specified requirements. The initiative allows local government to continue to collect revenue if the ordinance was in effect by Jan.15, 2018. The revenue and expenditure impacts cannot be determined because the potential lost revenue is based on volume of product sold within the jurisdiction.

In The Lens TJ Martinell reports on AWB’s position on I-1631.

As the November election approaches, the state’s business association composed of 7,000 members representing 700,000 employees has come out against a proposed carbon tax via Initiative 1631, arguing that the move would indirectly raise energy costs on ratepayers and hamper ongoing private sector efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

In a July statement, Association of Washington Business President Kris Johnson highlighted Washington’s position as one of the lowest carbon emitting states in the country. Washington’s emissions make up 1.4 percent of total U.S. carbon emissions and .021 percent of total global emissions.

“This initiative will do little to reduce global carbon emissions while placing Washington employers, especially small businesses, at a competitive disadvantage with other states and regions that won’t have to pay the higher energy costs,” Johnson wrote.

Much more on all this in the coming weeks, no doubt.