Legislators, Critics Wary of Gov. Inslee’s Big Push for Electric Cars
One legislator is against extending the state's tax break for electric car owners, and spending money the state doesn't have on charging stations.
At an environmental conference in November Gov. Inslee outlined his proposal to push for more electric car sales in Washington state, and to help that he wants to extend the sales tax break for electric car owners. Set to expire next July 1st, Inslee believes the tax will encourage people to buy them.
However, even Democratic lawmakers are leery of the plan. According to kansas.com and the Associated Press, Rep. Reuven Carlyle D-Seattle, voiced concerned about the plan. Carlyle said "I'm not enthusiastic about a subsidy that picks winners and losers, and doesn't help the middle class."
He was hinting at some other Democratic lawmakers who drive electric vehicles, which are often beyond the price range of many Washington families. Democratic Senator Mark Mullet of Issaquah has been driving an all-electric Tesla since 2009, and raves about it. But consumers have not raved about it's nearly six-figure price tag.
If extended, it would cause a tax hit of about $30 million over the next two years, revenue the state cannot afford to lose - especially since it's facing a billion dollar budget shortfall.
Senator Curtis King, who heads the State Transportation Committee said:
"Tell me that a person that buys a Tesla for $70,000 or $80,000 shouldn't have to pay sales tax? They can afford to pay that kind of money, why aren't they paying the sales tax?"
Examples such as this support the argument Inslee's tax break extension doesn't benefit most Washingonians, only those who can afford electric vehicles. Washington state does have some of the highest numbers of such cars on the road, according to the Department of Licensing, over 7,000 all electric. The total number of hybrids brings that number to over 10,000.
However, the vast majority of electric or hybrid cars are in Western Washington, with King, Pierce and Snohomish counties accounting for over 6,700. According to the DMV, there are about 679 of them in the East side. Spokane has 268, and Benton County 163. Such counties as Adams (1), Garfield and Lincoln (4), Asotin (9) and only 50 in Yakima county show they're not growing fast on this side of the state.
There are four public electric charging stations in Tri-Cities, at Leskovar on Clearwater, The Nissan dealership in Pasco, Franklin PUD and the BMW dealership in Richland.
Inslee also wants to spend millions to build more charging stations around the state.