Look no further than California for the latest example of foolishness.
That state’s latest budget counts on at least $500 million from that state’s auction of carbon credits under its cap-and-trade…business…to balance its budget.
There’s a problem with that bait-and-switch…business…though. As California’s Supreme Court ruled in its 1997 Sinclair Paint Co opinion, regulatory fees can’t
exceed in amount the reasonable cost of providing the protective services for which the fees are charged
or be imposed for
unrelated revenue purposes.
The cap-and-trade collection, however, explicitly is a fee and not a tax—that’s how the fees were successfully assessed in the aftermath of California’s Proposition 13, which requires a supermajority in each house of the California legislature to raise taxes.
This leads to a couple of problems that would be no-brainer deal killers for anyone but a Progressive:
First, the stated purpose of the diversion: to put the monies into the state government’s general coffers in order to balance the budget, rather than to spend the money on “green” goals, which is the stated purpose of the cap-and-trade program. The monies can’t be diverted to the general coffers. Not legally, anyway.
Second, the diversion of the $500 million demonstrates that the state government believes the money is not needed so much for those “green” goals: the cap-and-trade fees “exceed in amount the reasonable cost of providing the protective services for which the fees are charged” by those $500 million.