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Inslee administration: using taxpayer funds to promote CCA spending is appropriate

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(The Center Square) – State agencies and other recipients of programs that are funded by the Climate Commitment Act are being directed to use a recently approved new logo and messaging.

The directive comes as the CCA is facing a potential repeal by voters in November with Initiative 2113.

Some are questioning the use of taxpayer dollars for the new campaign, saying its politically inspired, but Gov. Jay Inslee’s office tells The Center Square there is nothing political about the messaging.

“It’s pretty standard for major infrastructure programs to have related branding programs or websites associated with them,” said Inslee spokesperson Mike Faulk. “It’s one of several important tools for informing people about how funding is being used. At the state level we’ve done this with all our transportation packages, California has done this for their cap-and-invest funded projects, nationally you’ll see this with programs such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.”

Others see it differently.

“This is clearly not normal and the language is obviously political,” according to Todd Myers, director of the Center for Environment at the Washington Policy Center. “This is clearly a response to push back on the impacts of the CCA and them wanting to show where all the taxpayer money is being spent.”

Myers added, “Then okay fine, show the impacts on gas prices and the effects on farmers which they have ignored, and impacts in so many other areas. It’s fine to provide information but their goal is not to provide information, it’s political talking points.”

As for the new logo, Inslee’s office in an email said no outside taxpayer dollars were utilized.

“They’ve never had the logo before, it was released in January, subsequent to the initiative qualifying,” said Myers, adding WPC has filed a public disclosure request to find out when Inslee’s office planned on the new logo and messaging, “But, we know the new logo wasn’t unveiled until January, after the initiative was filed.”

“Hours of staff time are taxpayer resources so instead of doing something else, they were doing this, so there may not have been taxpayer resources going outside of government, but they did pay people to do this.”

Myers said in the case of the group he got the language from (the email about messaging from the governor), “It was not for salmon recovery and it was not for anything people would claim was beneficial, it was for more government planning.”

“So the irony is the state said okay cities you have to do more government planning and we’re gonna give you money for that planning but we’re gonna force you to say that the money came from the CO2 tax,” he said. “I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not making a legal argument, I’m just saying they are clearly using government resources to push a political agenda at a time when the law that they like is before the voters.”