Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, issued this statement after House Bill 2182, which would increase the state’s hazardous substance tax slightly to provide a reliable funding source for toxic cleanup sites, was heard today by the Senate Ways & Means Committee.
“This legislation corrects a budget weakness by establishing a reliable funding source for the cleanup of toxic sites. I believe we did a good job drafting capital budgets this year in both the Senate and House, but one weakness of the Senate budget is that it uses some long-term bonds to pay for cleanup instead of a dedicated revenue source.
“It’s fiscally unsound to use our debt capacity for toxic cleanup instead of for the buildings and infrastructure for which it is rightly intended. This bill allows a better use of our bonding capacity for things like school construction and mental health facilities.
“This very modest surcharge represents a truly miniscule expense for the large, multinational petroleum companies that pay more than 90 percent of the hazardous substance tax. In other words, this is a drop in the bucket for an industry that enjoys staggering profits. Moreover, the state Department of Revenue has indicated in the past that measures on this scale would have negligible effects on consumer gas prices, if any at all.
“The fact is that the state’s growing stormwater problems are a direct byproduct of the use of petroleum. Part of the money raised by this tax would supplant debt financing that is proposed to be used for stormwater cleanup and other toxic cleanup projects around the Puget Sound and in Eastern Washington, including many of our critical ports. This is good, smart public policy to stabilize the toxics account and improve our environment and our economy.”