Event Title

Money or message: how policy narratives made the perfect the enemy of the good in Washington State's carbon tax debate.

Research Mentor(s)

Troy Abel

Description

In 2016 the nation’s first carbon tax proposal was presented to the Washington State legislature by way of citizen initiative. Failing there, Initiative 732: Washington Carbon Emission Tax and Sales Tax Reduction was put to the popular vote in the November general election, with the same result even though support for Initiative 732 had been consistently gaining for months, with the pro-coalition outspending the opposing coalition by nearly two to one. I-732 ultimately garnered support from only 40% of Washington voters on Election Day. If money didn’t make the difference, what did? Some attributed the loss to active opposition coming from within the environmental community; although opponents of the carbon tax and sales tax reduction included expected fossil fuel and industrial interests, other significant opponents included the Sierra Club as well as the Washington State Democratic Party. Certainly the compositions of the coalitions had some bearing on the decisions of voters on Election Day. Perhaps more specifically, the messages promulgated by the pro and con coalitions affected and informed the ultimate defeat of Washington’s first carbon tax proposal. This research study set out to analyze those messages found in public consumption documents generated by coalition members such as editorials and blog posts by way of narrative policy analysis. The Narrative Policy Framework (NPF) lends itself as a means of finding connections between narratives that are utilized in policy processes, like Washington’s I-732 carbon tax debate, and policy outcomes, e.g. the failure of I-732 – in a scientifically verifiable manner. This study addresses two NPF-inspired questions: How did opposing groups construct policy narratives in the debates surrounding I-732? and Are there differences in how the winning coalition versus losing coalitions portrayed characters (heroes, villains, and victims) in the policy narratives surrounding the I-732 carbon tax debate?

Document Type

Event

Start Date

May 2018

End Date

May 2018

Location

Environmental Studies

Rights

Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author’s written permission.

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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Money or message: how policy narratives made the perfect the enemy of the good in Washington State's carbon tax debate.

Environmental Studies

In 2016 the nation’s first carbon tax proposal was presented to the Washington State legislature by way of citizen initiative. Failing there, Initiative 732: Washington Carbon Emission Tax and Sales Tax Reduction was put to the popular vote in the November general election, with the same result even though support for Initiative 732 had been consistently gaining for months, with the pro-coalition outspending the opposing coalition by nearly two to one. I-732 ultimately garnered support from only 40% of Washington voters on Election Day. If money didn’t make the difference, what did? Some attributed the loss to active opposition coming from within the environmental community; although opponents of the carbon tax and sales tax reduction included expected fossil fuel and industrial interests, other significant opponents included the Sierra Club as well as the Washington State Democratic Party. Certainly the compositions of the coalitions had some bearing on the decisions of voters on Election Day. Perhaps more specifically, the messages promulgated by the pro and con coalitions affected and informed the ultimate defeat of Washington’s first carbon tax proposal. This research study set out to analyze those messages found in public consumption documents generated by coalition members such as editorials and blog posts by way of narrative policy analysis. The Narrative Policy Framework (NPF) lends itself as a means of finding connections between narratives that are utilized in policy processes, like Washington’s I-732 carbon tax debate, and policy outcomes, e.g. the failure of I-732 – in a scientifically verifiable manner. This study addresses two NPF-inspired questions: How did opposing groups construct policy narratives in the debates surrounding I-732? and Are there differences in how the winning coalition versus losing coalitions portrayed characters (heroes, villains, and victims) in the policy narratives surrounding the I-732 carbon tax debate?