Rep. April Connors and Rep. Mary Dye propose financial relief to Washington drivers with CAR Payment program

Registered vehicle owners in Washington would receive a $100 check – or up to $200 per family – next July under a proposal Rep. April Connors plans to introduce for the 2024 legislative session.

Connors’ financial relief measure, also known as the Carbon Auction Relief (CAR) Payment program, would send the excess revenue collected under the state’s new carbon allowance auctions directly to Washington drivers. Future payments could be larger based on how much surplus revenue the state brings in.     

The Climate Commitment Act (CCA), passed by legislative Democrats in 2021, enacted a cap-and-trade program that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2023. Cap-and-trade programs aim to reduce carbon emissions by putting a price on them. The state’s program has raised about three times more revenue than anticipated – increasing the cost of gasoline by about 50 additional cents per gallon. This summer, Washington had the highest average regular gasoline price in the nation, surpassing California. Today, the average cost of regular gasoline in Washington is just over $5 per gallon, according to AAA.

Connors’ proposal would not affect the CCA – the same regulated entities would face the same emissions cap, and carbon credit auctions would not change.

“High gas prices are draining the budgets of those who can least afford it,” said Connors, R-Kennewick. “Many of my constituents have had to cut back on groceries, cancel family trips, or make other painful sacrifices. The CAR Payment program is about getting dollars back into their pockets.”

After receiving the initial July payment, registered vehicle owners would receive an annual check when they renew their vehicle tabs. The amount of the check would vary depending on how much the state has collected above what was forecasted to be collected in 2021, when the CCA was enacted. The Department of Ecology is not expected to update revenue projections to take into account the higher-than-expected auction prices until the end of 2023. At that time, more realistic projections of CAR Payment amounts can be developed.

“It’s your money – it’s just not right that agencies and policymakers spend that money,” said Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy, ranking member on the House Environment and Energy Committee. “This money needs to go back to the people who earned it.”

The 2024 legislative session is scheduled to convene on Jan. 8, 2024.

For more information about the CAR Payment program, visit: 

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Washington State House Republican Communications