Tim Eyman and the California malaise

With another Eyman anti-tax measure heading for the ballot, Washington continues to echo the California and Oregon pattern of defying democracy and putting the Legislature into an impossible bind.
Tim Eyman, head of Washington's government-in-exile

Tim Eyman, head of Washington's government-in-exile Permanent Offense

On Wednesday, as Tim Eyman's latest anti-tax initiative was cleared for the ballot in Washington, national headlines were dominated by California's continuing inability to close a monstrous $26 billion budget deficit.

Hello! Is anyone connecting the dots here?

What is happening in California is the ultimate payoff from citizen initiatives that over the past 30 years have ordered the government to fund very expensive programs — while at the very same time making it virtually impossible to raise the money to pay for them.

The process has brought to California — and Washington and Oregon — a totally dysfunctional system that primarily serves initiative hustlers like Eyman, who make their living by convincing deep-pockets businessmen and a host of ordinary folk to pay them as a sort of government-in-exile.

In California, as Gary Kamiya points out in an article for Salon, voters have used initiatives to (for example): mandate high state support for local schools and a "three strikes" measure that has forced the state to build and operate huge prisons. But neither initiative carried any new revenue. They were "free lunch initiatives," ordering the Legislature to come up with the billions. At the same time, other initiatives required any tax measure to pass with two-thirds legislative majorities.

Does this sound like Washington and Oregon?

Initiatives were a product of the Progressive Movement in the early 20th Century; yes, Virginia, there were progressives long before Barack Obama. Initiatives were intended to fight corrupt legislatures dominated by big railroads, big timber, and big banks. They have been useful over the years to pass legislation supported by a lot of voters but too controversial for legislators to handle (recent examples: "death with dignity," medical marijuana, and same-sex marriage). But when initiatives involve complex financial issues, the system breaks down, as it has in California.

Initiatives carry simple, appealing titles, generally emphasizing tax reductions. Only a tiny fraction of voters ever get beyond the title or the clever promotions behind them. But the devil is in the details, and once the measures go into effect there are always unexpected consequences, often quite serious. Once passed, these measures are very difficult to repeal, even though legislatures normally could amend them two years after enactment. (A rare case was in 2008 in Oregon, where voters drastically reduced the draconian limits they had placed on land-use laws a few years earlier)

Washington will face another Eyman measure this fall, I-1033, and once again beleaguered voters will be asked to trust in an appealing ballot title, without the foggiest notion of how the measure will work. Anyone who tells you he or she knows how it will work is conning you; the more complex an initiative, the greater the chance that it will turn out badly. Media are now totally fragmented and there is no single source for objective analysis of ballot measures. Television's drive-by focus on mayhem and celebrities long ago opted out of serious election coverage.

Initiatives are always touted as the ultimate in democracy and, in theory at least, they are democratic tools, allowing voters to assert their will. But they too often violate democracy in their details, such as allowing for a rule by a simple majority; and Washington's I-960 (another Eyman tool) and similar initiatives in Oregon and California are the worst examples.

These initiatives required legislative super-majorities (60 or 67 percent) to pass tax measures, in effect giving a determined minority in the legislature a veto power unless the measures are referred to voters. The super-majority cuts the floor out from under bipartisan legislating, as lines harden around the majority or minority. California is desperately polarized politically, heavily Democratic in statewide voting but very anti-tax and anti-government in Republican districts. In better times, when party affiliations were less polarized, a core of centrists from both parties could craft long-range plans that involved both spending and revenue. Today's deep divisions date roughly to the polarizing effects of the Reagan Era (government is not the solution, it is the problem) and the parallel rise of powerful public-employee unions and gerrymandered districts that entrench party extremes.


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Comments:

Posted Thu, Jul 16, 9:32 p.m. Inappropriate

I-1033 simply reestablishes reasonable fiscal discipline policies and principles of I-601, approved by voters in 1993. Here's a recent column that explains it further:

http://www.gateline.com/opinion/story/4625.html

Here's an excerpt:

I-1033 brings back successful policies and principles passed by the voters previously. In 1993, during tough economic times, voters approved I-601, which put reasonable limits on government’s fiscal policies. I-601 established a sustainable rate for government to grow, saying it could grow at the inflation rate plus population growth. It included a safety valve that said if government thought I-601’s automatic increase wasn’t enough, they could go to the voters and ask for a bigger increase.

Despite a multi-million-dollar-special-interest-group-funded opposition campaign, the voters passed I-601, and it worked very well for many years until the Legislature started putting loopholes in it. It started with the Republicans in 1998 and accelerated with the Democrats in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2007. Those loopholes removed I-601’s reasonable fiscal discipline and policies.

The result? Two major deficits — $3.2 billion in 2003 and $9 billion in 2009.

Those loopholes allowed them to take their budgets on a fiscal roller coaster, overextending themselves in good times — creating unsustainable budgets — and then slashing during bad times (the Washington Policy Center has done extensive research and analysis on the success of I-601 and the negative impacts of the Legislature’s loopholes).

...

read the whole thing here: http://www.gateline.com/opinion/story/4625.html

for more info, go to our website: http://www.VotersWantMoreChoices.com

teyman

Posted Thu, Jul 16, 9:49 p.m. Inappropriate

From: Tim Eyman, I-1033 co-sponsor

Why are we doing I-1033? Because for 12 years, our supporters and fellow citizens have been asking us, in fact begging us to tackle our state's growing property tax crisis with an initiative. Every year, our property tax burden gets bigger and bigger and yet there's been no answer, no response, no ACTION whatsoever from state, county, and city politicians. So we drafted and sponsored a property tax initiative that will reduce the citizens' tremendous property tax burden at the state, county and city level. That's why it's called the Lower Property Taxes Initiative.

But we wanted to make sure that after lowering property taxes, politicians couldn't shift the tax burden and raise taxes someplace else -- we wanted 'net' property tax relief. So we drafted I-1033 to cap the GROWTH of overall REVENUE to ensure the property tax reductions provided for by the initiative were not replaced by increases in other taxes or fees.

What's also beneficial to the taxpayers about this approach is that it builds on and reinforces previous tax initiatives that have been undermined by subsequent legislative action. It closes existing loopholes and deters future loopholes. This is especially needed in Washington state because the lifespan of initiatives, including I-1033, can be cut short. Washington has a very unique initiative process compared to other states -- here, the people can pass laws, but they cannot change the state Constitution. Part of the checks-and-balances of our state's legislative process is that lawmakers and the people's initiative are co-equal: the people can pass a law, but the Legislature can change it. Conversely, the Legislature can pass a law, but the people can change it. It is a tug-of-war where both sides have equal authority. Other states (Oregon, California, Colorado and others) allow the people even more power and permit them to change their state Constitution by initiative, leaving the Legislatures in those states with little to no flexibility.

Washington is different -- one can argue that this is a weakness (lawmakers can change initiatives they don't like which frustrates many people) but it can also be seen as a strength (lawmakers can adjust people-initiated policies to adapt to changing conditions). Regardless of how you view it, it is the way it works in Washington state.

This is one of the main reasons why the doomsday predictions made by opponents of our initiatives are so easily dismissed as absurd. If an earthquake, small pox, alien attack, or other hysterically bad thing occurs, the Legislature is empowered to change the policies in any initiative. They've done so before and they will do so again.

It is for this reason that follow-up initiatives like I-1033 are especially helpful -- they give the people the chance to reinforce policies that voters previously approved but that politicians subsequently changed. With I-1033, there are three previous taxpayer protection initiatives that are reinforced by I-1033:

1) In 2007, voters approved Initiative 960, making it tougher to raise taxes. It's only been two years, but there's already rumblings from politicians telling reporters that I-960's policies are on the chopping block next session. Passage of I-1033 removes their incentive to do so. As was explained in Friday's Seattle Times:

Eyman said he's worried lawmakers will try to unravel I-960 next session because two years will have passed since the initiative was approved. He sees I-1033 as another barrier to raising taxes without voter approval. The initiative "says if you raise taxes without a vote of the people you'll have to give it back the following year by lowering the property-tax burden. So maybe you shouldn't do that," Eyman said. I-1033 allows governments to put tax increases to the voters. If approved, the new tax revenue would be exempt from the initiative's limits.

The major theme of I-960, continued and reinforced by I-1033, is encouraging politicians to get the people's permission before taking more of their money.

2) In 2001, voters approved a 1% cap on the growth of regular property tax levies with Initiative 747. Six years later, following the High Court's goofy 'voters-were-misled' 5-4 ruling, Gregoire and the Legislature reinstated the 1% cap during a special session, but they refused to repeal banked capacity, the ability of state and local governments to get around their 1% cap. I-1033 removes their incentive to use that unilateral tax-hiking authority because any revenue collected from it would be refunded the following year. Also, many citizens believe that state and local governments and county assessors are simply jacking up property tax valuations / property tax assessments in order to get around the 1% cap. Under I-1033, moneys collected from ANY revenue source that exceed I-1033's revenue cap must be used to reduce the subsequent year's property tax levy. I-1033 removes the incentive for politicians to get around the 1% property tax cap.

3) In 1993, voters approved I-601, an initiative that said government can grow at the rate of inflation plus population growth, the same formula used in I-1033 (the benefits of its reenactment are explained in the previous post).

I-1033 gets us off that roller coaster, allowing sustainable, predictable growth, inspiring them to reform and prioritize using existing revenues. That's reasonable, that's sustainable, that's what 315,000 citizens believe is a better way to go. We can't keep pouring tax revenues into a bucket that has a big hole in the bottom -- it'll never be enough. The state, counties, and cities need to learn that taxpayers don't have bottomless wallets.

http://www.VotersWantMoreChoices.com

teyman

Posted Thu, Jul 16, 10:45 p.m. Inappropriate

Why is Eyman doing I-1033? Because running initiatives is how he makes his living. I suspect in his heart of hearts he doesn't really care if it passes or not. Either way he will be back next year with another one, so he can keep the $$$ flowing from his contributors. Some day, maybe, they will figure him out; but alas not soon enough.

What a racket he's got going! It puts money in his pocket, keeps him on the public stage, yet he bears no responsibility at all when things go gloriously wrong.

California, here we come!

Posted Thu, Jul 16, 11:13 p.m. Inappropriate

So, what are some other ideas for keeping off the fiscal roller coaster?

sjenner

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 3 a.m. Inappropriate

We are already in similar shape to California. Our deficit was proportional to theirs. There is no coaster only roller. State spending has gone from $39 billion per biennium to $69 billion in the last 10 years.

If a family member is a shopaholic and plastic-addict sooner or later daddy Tim has to put the clamps on. What is your answer, Floyd?

rasul

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 5:34 a.m. Inappropriate

Mr. Eyman is a walking case study in the "what could go wrong?" effects public initiatives, true enough. But at a time when every non-oil or gas producing state is running a deficit, the fact of the matter is that we are in a larger scale crisis caused by bad policy at a national, and in some cases global level. Sure it's exacerbated the already bad situation California and Washington's governments find themselves in, but I think trying to tie the current crisis solely to the misuse of public initiatives doesn't give the whole picture.

FWIW, I think the results of public initiatives are generally as bad as when people try to represent themselves in court. Some things are best left to the professionals, and crafting policy is one of them.

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 6:43 a.m. Inappropriate

The "professionals" put loopholes in voter-approved I-601 -- an initiative that was working and successfully smoothing out the highs and lows -- that resulted in a $3.2 billion deficit in 2003 and a $9 billion deficit in 2009.

Yes, by all means, let the "professionals" continue doing what they're doing and next time it'll be a $15 billion deficit.

I-601 worked - it can work again with I-1033.

teyman

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 6:47 a.m. Inappropriate

From: genefmllr (this post appeared in the Seattle Times)

We got a good example of how poorly our elected officials operate with putting together a budget in the last legislative session. The legislature and the Governor put together a budget with a 9.6 billion dollar defficiet built into it and then went on to try to balance the budget by cutting expenditures to necessary services and by projecting sources of income far out into the future. They did nothing to really cut spending. The real problem with this is that the public is likely to elect these same idiots again so instead of any hope of solving the problem we look forward to the problem compunding itself. Unless we pass safegaurds like those proposed by Eyman in this Initiative we have no hope to bring budgetary sanity back to State government.

teyman

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 6:52 a.m. Inappropriate

from: wutitz (this post appeared in the Seattle PI)

If the state government had exercised minimal restraint in spending, this would not be necessary. But in the last 25 years state spending has looked like this:

(in billions of dollars, biennial)
1985 $15.02
1991 $23.99
1995 $34.10
2001 $49.53
2005 $60.52
2007 $69.18

I don't know about you, but my paycheck has not done that. If you want to yowl, yowl at your legislators, not at Tim.

teyman

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 7:18 a.m. Inappropriate

Isn't it a little ironic when someone with a $300,000 mortgage is saying that the government needs to live within their means?

sean98125

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 7:53 a.m. Inappropriate

the government consist of and for and is by the people. if a people cannot govern themselves it/ they ought to dissolve itself, and reform or not, into a rat pack, into a swarm of crows!? californiae definitely ruined itself starting with proposition 13 way back at the beginning of the last quarter of the last century... if a people became penny wise and pound foolish you will get a 20 billion deficit eventually. a personal income tax, a leveling of the huge discrepancy in incomes is the way to go for a united people united in their peopledom. let there be a cap on personal wealth, say 10 million, sufficient incentive for those who earn pennies to get on the rat ladder if that's what they want and keep the economic wheels spinning, since evidently the imagination is incapable of conceiving of a saner and healthier way of being.

mikerol

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 8:18 a.m. Inappropriate

Mr. Eyman, if the people really support this initiative, why did you have to use PAID signature gatherers? Your very first initiative, which by the gutted public transportation and set back the Puget Sound by ten years, didn't need a single paid signature gatherer. You tapped into the state's zeitgeist and folks willing distributed your initiative far and wide.

But since then, that loyal fanbase has looked at your subsequent initiatives and said a collective "WTF?" Now, the only way you can get your initiatives signed is to use paid gatherers who hawk your ill-conceived "mandates" like so much yesterday's fish.

So I'm going to write to my state reps and demand that they reform the initiative system and do away with paid signature gatherers and demand that all initiatives have pro and con information available for the prospective signer to read so that they can make a balanced and reasoned decision about the validity and feasibility of the initiative.

Oh, and put you out of a job.

kedamono

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 8:24 a.m. Inappropriate

As far as support for I-1033 is concerned, we've received 2063 individual donations totalling $664,769 so far. 2063 -- that's really extraordinary -- it's clear that I-1033 has a very broad base of grassroots support. Supporter Mike Dunmire is a real rock star among our supporters -- he's inspired many to contribute because of his leadership and support. His $300,000 contribution, along with my $250,000 loan from a 2nd mortgage on my house, certainly helped a lot, but we value everyone who contributes to our efforts, especially during these tough economic times.

out of the 48,148 supporters who were mailed a I-1033 petition in February, an extraordinary 34,588 sent back a partially filled or fully filled petition, and 315,444 citizens signed a petition.

Thanks to all those people who worked so hard, the voters will have the opportunity to vote in November for lower property taxes by controlling the growth of government.

http://www.VotersWantMoreChoices.com

teyman

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 8:36 a.m. Inappropriate

teyman, it would be helpful to show what those figures (state expenditures 1985 thru
2008) would have been had the limits of Initiative 1033 been in place. We did have some considerable increase in population during that time period and inflation has not been negligible. Comparing the dollar increase with an inflation/population adjusted increase should make the dollar expenditures look more reasonable and also make the effects of I-1033 look less draconian.

Incidentally, commenters, what difference does it make how Mr. Eyman makes his living?

kieth

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 8:40 a.m. Inappropriate

Oh, and you don't need to write to your state reps, they do a legislative jihad against the initiative process every year.

Seattle Democrat Ken Jacobsen introduces a bill every year to repeal the people's right to initiative, despite the fact that it's guaranteed by our state Constitution. No legislator ever co-sponsors his bill. He's your guy.

teyman

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 8:40 a.m. Inappropriate

If Mr Eyman wants to run government, do it the decent way and run for office and take responsibility for his decisions.

kedamono

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 8:43 a.m. Inappropriate

I don't want to do away with initiatives, just paid signature gatherers and presenting arguments both pro and con for the initiative ON the initiative so that potential signers can make a balanced and reasoned decision about the initiative without a paid gatherer blathering in their ear on how great the world will be after then sign the initiative.

kedamono

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 8:44 a.m. Inappropriate

"Washington will face another Eyman measure this fall, I-1033, and once again beleaguered voters will be asked to trust in an appealing ballot title, without the foggiest notion of how the measure will work."

Then vote against it. Jesus the amount of whining over this is mind numbing.

And the people of California are second only to New York in the amount of taxes they're hit with. You have to be one stupid mother &^%$# to think that the reason they're bankrupt is because the citizens aren't taxed enough.

Rokit

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 9:07 a.m. Inappropriate

First, I'd encourage everyone to read the commentary on I-1033 at http://horsesass.org/?p=17514 and to visit the No on 1033 campaign at http://www.permanentdefense.org/no1033/. To quote:

"By making it illegal for our state and our communities to spend more than what we spent the year before on services like schools, parks, police, fire, or hospitals. Tim Eyman has tried to make this approach sound reasonable by including a provision that exempts inflation and population growth from the limit, but the reality is that the whole concept of contrived, artificial limits on revenue is completely unreasonable to begin with. In practice such limits have been utterly unworkable. Other states, like Colorado, have imposed them and seen their quality of life suffer drastically as a result."

Indexing revenue increases to inflation and population growth sounds reasonable. But according to the Washington State Budget & Policy Center, the inflation part of the equation measures the change in the price of everything consumers buy, not the change in the cost of providing government services. The population part of the equation measures the growth in the general population, missing key demographic changes such as the rise in the uninsured or the retirement of the baby boomers. This initiative would actually increase the current deficit by half a billion dollars. Source: http://schmudget.blogspot.com/2009/07/i-1033-whats-at-stake-for-washington.html.

Above Mr. Eyman says "The major theme of I-960, continued and reinforced by I-1033, is encouraging politicians to get the people's permission before taking more of their money." How about getting the people's permission to drastically cut funding for public schools, police, and firefighters? Ah, but that wouldn't be in the ballot title, would it.

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 9:10 a.m. Inappropriate

"Incidentally, commenters, what difference does it make how Mr. Eyman makes his living?"

I think it's informative to understand that Mr. Eyman is as much a professional politician as any elected official.

sean98125

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 9:34 a.m. Inappropriate

Washington State Budget & Policy Center is a wholly owned subsidiary of the donors to the "No" campaign. Opponents have raised $37,500 so far ($25,000 from the Washington Education Association, $10,000 from the WA State Service Employees Int'l Union, $2500 from the WA Council of County & City Employees). It was these same groups (and the groups that will join them) that pushed very hard for big tax hikes and a state income tax during the last legislative session AND EVEN GREGOIRE AND THE DEMOCRATS rejected doing that. In other words, these groups, as well as the Budget & Policy Center, are on the absolute extreme fringe of tax policy. Opponents are against ANY limit on government's ability to unilaterally take as much as they want from the taxpayers.

teyman

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 10:03 a.m. Inappropriate

The taxpayers of this state aren't victims of the initiative process, we're victims of the Legislature. Until these parasites in Olympia start dealing with real issues in the real world, and not spinning socialist utopias out of very expensive cotton candy, the initiative process will remain the only hope that the people of this state have that we can balance our own checkbooks. The leaders in Olympia do not have a higher claim on the people's money than the people themselves do. The government needs to put its house in order before it sucks all of the vitality out of our society. Measures like this, which "starve the beast" as Reagan so aptly put it, are a good first start.

dbreneman

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 10:17 a.m. Inappropriate

This legislation encourages fiscal irresponsibility.

In strong economic times, the government collects more revenues. We can all agree government screwed up recently by not banking more of this cash for rainy days like we have now. Putting cash away in good times is the smart thing to do, as all of us know.

I-1033 prevents this. Any extra cash collected in the good times cannot be put in a rainy day fund. This is terrible, terrible public policy.

I-1033 is also a poison pill. Property tax collections are required to be reduced in times of good economic activity. However, there is no provision to allow property taxes to return to approved levels in less economically positive times. In a strong economic climate, tax RATES will be forced down to comply with the revenue cap requirements. When tax colelctions shrink in recessions, there is no provision to return tax RATES to previous levels, this will exponentially reduce government resources during precisely the time people depend on government's help the most.

Since this legislation functionally prohibits the creation of rainy day savings funds, there is no margin for error. This initiative is simply a disaster in the making.

Even if you like the idea of capping government spending, this poorly written and conceived initiative is not the way to do it.

Vote it down.

ddmiller

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 10:20 a.m. Inappropriate

earlier post wrote: Any extra cash collected in the good times cannot be put in a rainy day fund. This is terrible, terrible public policy.

response: Not true. I-1033's section 2, subsection 2 reads (note the 2nd sentence): For purposes of this section, "general fund revenue" means the aggregate of revenue from taxes, fees, and other governmental charges received by state government that are deposited in any fund subject to the state expenditure limit under RCW 43.135.025. “General fund revenue” does not include the funds required to be transferred into the fund created under Article 7, Section 12 of the state constitution and does not include funds transferred from that fund. “General fund revenue” does not include revenue received from the federal government.

Article 7, Section 12 of the state constitution is the rainy day fund, created by voters in 2007 (officially called the Budget Stabilization Act): http://www.ofm.wa.gov/fund/100/fund14b.htm

So, general fund revenues going into and out of the rainy day fund are exempt from I-1033's limit.

So, just to be clear: what happens to excess tax revenues that government collects above I-1033’s limit? After a fixed percentage of tax revenue is transferred into the constitutionally-protected rainy day fund, the remainder of excess tax revenues gets refunded back to taxpayers via lower property taxes.

I-1033 allows the government to grow, but at a rate that the citizens can control and the taxpayers can afford.

teyman

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 10:44 a.m. Inappropriate

Predictably, Mr. Eyman avoids addressing the substance of the State Budget & Policy Center's analysis of I-1033, instead attacking the political leanings and credibility of the organization.

The policy center's research is sound and finds that I-1033 would:

•Constrict the ability of state, county, and city governments to make essential public investments.
•Exacerbate the effects of economic and fiscal downturns.
•Increase the current deficit by half a billion dollars.

It also looks at the disastrous effects of a similar measure that passed in Colorado. http://schmudget.blogspot.com/2009/07/i-1033-whats-at-stake-for-washington.html

Opponents of this initiative would do well to focus on its disastrous consequences to schoolchildren and public safety, and avoid the example of ad hominem attacks that Mr. Eyman has set.

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 10:56 a.m. Inappropriate

Nice to see Tim reading this... So, Tim. Instead to potshots from the sidelines, I encourage you to run for office.

Instead of making a living by finding flaws, try taking full responsibility of the ENTIRE budget, not just the low hanging fruit.

You claim to find gaping holes in accountability, yet take none.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Run for office, balance a budget with full view of all that is required. Then we can chat about what initiatives should be filed.

You always claim there is money there... If you gain the seat of a public office, think of what a hero you would be when you find it.

Until you step up, I refuse to believe you.

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 11:04 a.m. Inappropriate

only our opponents want us to stop providing voters with additional choices at the ballot box. what's that tell ya?

and it is not a personal attack to point out that the Budget and Policy Center is a wholly owned subsidiary of I-1033's opponents. not surprisingly, they were front and center this year pushing for higher taxes and a state income tax, just like I-1033's opponents. But even Gregoire and the Democrats were against that. Which just shows you how far out they are on the extreme fringe they are when it comes to tax policy.

As for other states, none of them have an initiative process like Washington's (see my earlier comment Posted Thu, Jul 16, 9:49 p.m.).

teyman

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 11:27 a.m. Inappropriate

McKay is mistaken. The flawed initiative process has not caused legislative failure. Legislative failure resulted in the growth of the initiative process. Further, the overwhelming majority of unfunded mandates flow from the Federal Government, not the initiative process.

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 12:40 p.m. Inappropriate

It always helps to start a discussion about taxes (or a tax initiative) with some objective background information - numbers that establish the context. The last available data (2006) for Washington State's property tax collections per capita ranking among all states puts us squarely in the middle - 25th of 50. Now some owners of property in high demand because of favorable location and amenities such as views did experience higher valuations and assessments in recent years, until the housing bubble burst.

And to assign the $9 billion state deficit that was projected for the biennium that started July 1 solely to past spending conveniently ignores the country's fiscal meltdown. Consumers, whether individuals or businesses, have severely cut back on spending, and consumption taxes have gone south in proportion. Anyone who knew this two years ago when the last state budget was enacted should apply for the job of chief state revenue forecaster. Better yet, he or she should apply for Ben Bernanke's job.

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 12:44 p.m. Inappropriate

So, if I-1033 passes, are you done issue initiatives Mr Eyman? What? You have more ways to hamstring government and cripple its ability to provide needed services to the public?

Is this your only source of income Mr. Eyman?

Inquiring minds want to know!

kedamono

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 2:18 p.m. Inappropriate

I've never lived in such a selfish society .... you need medical care? Cant pay, dont get... that pothole's not in my street, why should I pay to have it fixed.... fund public education? I dont have kids or I send my kids to private school - why should I contribute?... public transport? Hell, I wont use it, why should I help pay for it?

Such selfish, short-sighted arrogance and greed....

We're all connected, and if we dont all pitch in then when things go wrong, we're all affected.... Latino kids failing at school in the 4th grade? - well, lets just use those stats to start building the jails we'll need for them in 10 years time.... and I'll bitch about those kids and about the sorry state of education and about the cost of the jails, but sorry mister, I aint spending a dime to better fund the education or health systems...

Property and sales taxes are too unstable a mechanism for funding the management and maintenance of our communities and environment. Bring in a progressive income tax... say starting at 15 cents in the dollar for the first $20K, rising until its 65c in the dollar for any income over $1M/year...

and close all those loopholes investors and big business use to avoid paying taxes in this state.... why should joe average on the street subsidise already wealthy people?

sahila

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 8:57 p.m. Inappropriate

It is clear Tim Eyman and Michael Dunmire hate government. Tim Eyman always savages any politician or government agency he mentions. His initiatives are not about reasonable government controls. His initiatives are about destroying government completely. I'm betting Tim has two or three initiatives already lined up for next year.

2cents

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 9:46 p.m. Inappropriate

When it comes to initiatives, I find the "Eyman" brand quite helpful.
If it's an Eyman, I vote no.
Taxes are the price of civilization.

Dewams

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 10:30 p.m. Inappropriate

I see that 10 of the 34 comments are from "teyman" himself. Permanently defensive much?

Posted Fri, Jul 17, 11:52 p.m. Inappropriate

Tim --

Nice try, but you fail on two accounts.

The 1% rainy day fund will go on as you note, but we learned in this economic downturn that we have to put more into that fund voluntarily. This is impossible under your initiative as it limits it only to 1%.

Fortunately, I just figured out a partial way around your measure that solves (delays) at least the poison pill effect. Thank you. The Legislature just needs to amend 43.79.495 to change the 1% mandatory figure to whatever percentage would sop up "extra" cash above your spending limit. This would prevent mandatory decreases in tax RATES during good economic times. We could build a real rainy day fund that would prevent the death spiral poison pill created by your initiative.

Incidentally, Tim, how do you handle deflationary periods? What if the implicit price deflator goes negative? Any intelligent economist from either side of the aisle will tell you this is precisely the time governments have to step up lest we recreate the Great Depression. Your initiative would require government to contract at precisely the most dangerous time for it to do so.

ddmiller

Posted Sat, Jul 18, 8:25 a.m. Inappropriate

Nothing in I-1033 prevents the state, counties, or cities from setting aside money in rainy day funds.

timeyman

Posted Sat, Jul 18, 12:14 p.m. Inappropriate

Oh my gosh! Thank you everyone - I suddenly see the big picture! I have truly been concerned for all of those unfortunate folks who have mortages but have lost their jobs and may go into foreclosure, thus furthering the spiraling downturn of our country's finances. Most important to our system is to keep those people working so they can be good citizens and continue to contribute postively to the economy. So vote "no" on I-1033 and keep poor Mr. Eyman in his job. He needs us.

QV

Posted Sat, Jul 18, 3:32 p.m. Inappropriate

I vote "no" on any initiative that Mr. Eyman advances, by default, without regard to what the initiative may or may not do. I'm not alone: many many thousands of Washingtonians do the same. (I used to sit more on the fence about him until his failed homophobic R-65 initiative in 2006 revealed he is either a bigot or comfortable working with/for bigots.)

The idea of initiatives was nice enough in the 1880s when such things as popular initiatives and elected judges were in fashion in new state constitutions, but I personally think the threshold for popular initiatives should be raised now--they're too easy to get onto ballots now with these mass paid signature drives. (I also think appointed judges is the way to go, the way judges are in the majority of states; this is reinforced for me more and more as I see outside political interests trying to influence judicial elections in Washington.)

California really needs a major constitutional reworking to make amendments harder to its constitution and to make initiatives harder to get through and to make budgets easier to agree to. They're sitting on a defective constitutional system in that state that rivals the Weimar Republic...

smacgry

Posted Sat, Jul 18, 4:30 p.m. Inappropriate

From: Tim Eyman, I-1033 co-sponsor

No state, county, or city politician can say they didn't see this coming. For decades, citizens have told politicians about their own personal property tax horror stories -- and politicians consistently ignored them. For decades, during both good times and bad, governments allowed taxpayers' property tax problems to fester, arrogantly dismissing the people's repeated, urgent call for relief. Why is Initiative 1033 necessary? Politicians need to look in the mirror -- it is their decades of inaction and greed, as well as their complete lack of empathy and compassion for the taxpayers' struggles, that necessitated 1033.

timeyman

Posted Sat, Jul 18, 6:33 p.m. Inappropriate

1) I actually think it's great that we can get Tim here to comment. It is only for the brave to get to the bottom of comment lists, where the IQ generally falls in proportion to the count number. (And... yes, I understand full well what this implies about me. =)

2) We left the state government to their own devices on spending, and ended up with a significant deficit. I don't believe that this initiative is brilliant, but I haven't heard anything else in terms of solutions other than "Maybe this time, Olympia will decide to stop spending so much. Really." I could be convinced, but right now I don't buy it.

3) OF COURSE the people who stand to lose from reduced tax revenue growth will be the ones arguing against limiting taxes. It's only logical, but it doesn't mean that their side has any more moral force to their arguments. They are arguing in direct self interest.

4) "Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys." - PJ O'Rourke. I laughed the first time I read this... then I saw Bush spend us down a hole... Obama spend us down a deeper hole... and saw the same thing repeated in my home state. They say that comedy is the combination of pain and distance. There is no distance any more.

PhilTG

Posted Sat, Jul 18, 9:56 p.m. Inappropriate

Re our state's budget, I think 2 years ago, the forecast was that the next biennium, we would be on track for $2 billion deficit. It grew to $9 billion. So it is not correct to blame all of the deficit on the national economy's decline, or all of it on local initiatives. The legislators made choices with consequences.

That said, citizens of the state seem too willing to pass some initiatives that increase spending, and others that cut taxes. It would be really interesting to find the 5 to 10% who vote for both and ask them if they see any contradictions in their votes. (I assume the same people vote from election to election, but if they don't, the same question could be asked differently - 'why did you vote in one election one way then sit out an election where you could vote the other way.'

sjenner

Posted Sun, Jul 19, 4:16 a.m. Inappropriate

Spot on PhilTG. It does not matter if it is Gregoire, Bush, Obmama, or the rock star who files for bankruptcy. Spendaholism is spendaholism.

sjenner, the initiatives that increase spending have been few and far between. It is much easier for the beneficiaries of spending increases to go through the legislature than through the people.

rasul

Posted Sun, Jul 19, 3:14 p.m. Inappropriate

from: IRONHORSE (posted at the Kitsap Sun)

We all know opponents don't want it to pass and they dislike Eyman and that's okay. This is America and we can disagree. But the question is, what would be your plan for ensuring responsible spending instead of the full speed adrift way we do it now? I think we're all open for a plan if you have one. The constant complaints about Eyman without a reasonable counter plan is just that, whining and complaining about a guy that's trying to do something the left hates. Taking their money away from them and holding them accountable for the money they do spend.

Do you have such a plan or maybe even a suggestion?

teyman

Posted Mon, Jul 20, 12:01 a.m. Inappropriate

This is a good article, as I've seen many people write things like if we had an income tax in WA, it would be just like CA, where their taxes are high for real estate, sales, and income taxes. The short answer is that they're not comparing apples to apples...a large part of the problem in CA is that real estate taxes are frozen in time at a base on the appraisal when it was last sold. In this state, Tim Eyman's initiatives attract people who seek simple solutions to complex problems. His recent initiative is one such example. Many voted for it thinking that their property taxes would go up no more than 1%; however, I know mine have gone up by double digits in two of the last 3 years, the most recent by 19%+. Yet, Tim said in a recent interview that the #1 issues that people ask him to tackle is property taxes, yet it's clear that he hasn't gotten the crux of their message or chooses to ignore it in pursuit of his true goal: minimal government. Since the overall tax collections - save the exclusions Professor McKay noted - have been going up by 1%, my experience means that some folks got a heck of a tax cut! I was told by the property tax folks the following: (1) properties in 1/6 of King County are inspected each year; (2) inspectors aren't allowed to look through the windows; (3) the tax authorities are reliant on taxpayers being honest in reporting improvements to their existing footprint (i.e., they can add a bedroom and a bath in an existing footprint and the tax authorities may not know about it), or they find out about it when a property sells, when supposedly they levy fines for improvements that weren't reported; (4) the mention of "Zillow" was laughed at, yet no comment was given why Zillow showed an improvement on one of my neighbor's properties - an external addition that was not reported on the tax records, i.e. no permit was acquired; (5) the assessor takes into account what types of houses are selling where, with the example that Bill Gates' house didn't presently have a market for it, implying that his property taxes went down, and probably considerably. In looking in my neighborhood, land values went up ranged from 10% to 42% in a year when nobody improved a thing. A better tax system would limit the increase in taxes on individual properties where there are no improvements to those properties, such as taxing on footprint and land size and not so much on what's "hot." These initiatives will continue to get voted on and some will be approved, while articles such as Mr. McKay's will continue to outline what's happening, which the vast majority of the electorate will ignore in favor of the latest "reality" show. Meanwhile, those that do care, which tend to be folks holding extreme views, will continue to dominate the meek, passive bulk of the population until things are so messed up that one of them can convince enough of their compatriots to open their wallets and fund their campaigns along with sacrificing their time, for it's money - which the "extremes" are willing to part with along with contributing time - that get people elected and, absent that, all we can do is complain about why "better" people don't run.

bricsa

Posted Mon, Jul 20, 12:20 a.m. Inappropriate

This is not something the left hates. It's something the right, left and middle oppose. The $66.60 you might save in property taxes will be immediately offset be the increase in out of pocket expenses to fund the very things 1033 will eliminate.

2cents

Posted Mon, Jul 20, 10:24 a.m. Inappropriate

Adam,

1) We have an initiative system. That means we're not solely in a representative democracy, we're in a combo rep/direct one. It's a different system. We may not like the way that Washington state is set up, but it's definitely set up that way.

2) The people in Olympia allowed/voted for/were pushed into (chose your method) the state to promise substantially more than it had money for. They have donors. They have lobbyists. They face very concentrated interests pushing them to promise more against a diffuse tax/constituency base trying to keep brakes on spending. This system works in a fairly predictable manner when one interest will fight to the death to get $100 while the 100 people generally don't fight not to lose their $1. This kind of initiative is one way to collectivize the will of those 100 by setting guidelines on how many cookies there are to hand out. It's not a perfect answer, but the only concrete complaint I've heard is that it doesn't allow the state to fund the Rainy Day fund adequately, which Tim claims is a misunderstanding. I'm open to better ideas.

3) In general, if you raise taxes in a downturn, it will prolong the downturn and drive businesses away from your state. We can hope that the mountains are lovely enough and our people are educated enough that won't happen, but it's worth noting that when they increased the tax burden in California, it made Nevada rich from businesses and people leaving. Texas, where it's relatively easy to open and run a business and taxes are relatively low, is doing fine. California and Oregon are a mess right now. Do we just presume that's an accident? I give Washington credit for trying to tread the middle ground between these two groups, but to maintain that, you need a push from both sides. How else do you want to maintain this push?

4) Name calling isn't helpful. Too much energy is wasted shouting across an artificial divide without actually talking or exchanging ideas. As a writer on this website, I would hope for more from you to elevate the debate, not drag it down.

-PhilTG

PhilTG

Posted Mon, Jul 20, 8:47 p.m. Inappropriate

PhilTG
1) The initiative process is very flawed as we have seen this past year. A special session is called to codify I-747, yet I-728, I-732, I-937 and I-1029 were ignored. The only initiatives that seem to matter are anti-tax intiatives.

2) From my reading the only "people" who stand to gain from this initiative are the moneyed and big business. The real estate cuts the wealthly and big business stand to gain are enormous. Yet the impact of their real estate has no relation to Washington states' population or inflation. It seems very wrong for the Boeing Corporation to gain a huge tax cut for their Everett property while I get pennies from this initiative. Meanwhile I am forced to pay for more school supplies and school programs that are unfunded, I am forced to wait for emergency care while those without basic healthcare clog the emergency room and I am forced to buy security for my home as we cut police, fire fighters and release murders and rapists from our prisions.

3) Real estate taxes are 100% deductible from our federal taxes. We actually gain money from our property taxes. On the other hand Bill Gates will not spend more in this state due to a hefty property tax cut. Boeing and ARCO will send their windfall tax cuts to their corporate headquarters from Washington State. Yet traffic, environmental concerns, and infrastructure needs of business dwarves the amount a fixed population/inflation formula could ever address.

4) I agree name calling is useless, but sometimes you need to yell to help people see the forest for the trees.

2cents

Posted Mon, Jul 20, 10:40 p.m. Inappropriate

PhilTG wrote: the only concrete complaint I've heard is that it doesn't allow the state to fund the Rainy Day fund

response: Not true. I-1033's section 2, subsection 2 reads (note the 2nd sentence): For purposes of this section, "general fund revenue" means the aggregate of revenue from taxes, fees, and other governmental charges received by state government that are deposited in any fund subject to the state expenditure limit under RCW 43.135.025. “General fund revenue” does not include the funds required to be transferred into the fund created under Article 7, Section 12 of the state constitution and does not include funds transferred from that fund. “General fund revenue” does not include revenue received from the federal government.

Article 7, Section 12 of the state constitution is the rainy day fund, created by voters in 2007 (officially called the Budget Stabilization Act): http://www.ofm.wa.gov/fund/100/fund14b.htm

So, general fund revenues going into and out of the rainy day fund are exempt from I-1033's limit.

So, just to be clear: what happens to excess tax revenues that government collects above I-1033’s limit? After a fixed percentage of tax revenue is transferred into the constitutionally-protected rainy day fund, the remainder of excess tax revenues gets refunded back to taxpayers via lower property taxes.

I-1033 allows the government to grow, but at a rate that the citizens can control and the taxpayers can afford.

teyman

Posted Mon, Jul 20, 10:58 p.m. Inappropriate

2 cents wrote: The initiative process is very flawed as we have seen this past year. A special session is called to codify I-747, yet I-728, I-732, I-937 and I-1029 were ignored. The only initiatives that seem to matter are anti-tax intiatives.

response: your 'beef' isn't with the initiative process, it's with representative democracy (i.e. Democrat legislators). D's are in charge in Olympia - they're the ones choosing to enact our initiatives and not the other initiatives. Aim your electoral wrath at them. The initiative process gives everyone a chance to speak on issues that manage to overcome the huge hurdle of qualification: elected officials can choose which to listen to and which to ignore, same as they do during the legislative process.

it's like whining about the injustice of a chalk board because someone writes something on it. Rather than arguing against the issue, you attack the chalk board.

The initiative process is not 'very flawed' -- it's simply giving the voters a chance to have their voices heard, as is guaranteed by our state Constitution. Just because the voters are saying something you disagree with doesn't invalidate the process.

teyman

Posted Wed, Jul 22, 8:05 a.m. Inappropriate

kedamono: "If Mr Eyman wants to run government, do it the decent way and run for office and take responsibility for his decisions."

Yes. Just like our current bunch of politicians, eh?

Posted Thu, Jul 23, 11:01 a.m. Inappropriate

For some crazy reason, I don't think California's (or WA state's) problems are because taxes weren't sufficiently high or the bureaucracy wasn't bloated enough.

Marky

Posted Thu, Jul 23, 1:07 p.m. Inappropriate


The problem that I see with such straight jackets as the proposal is that in time of plenty the Republicans scream about "give the taxpayers money back to them"! There is NO TIME that government can run a surplus in their world.

Since government at all levels provides counter-cyclical spending with unemployment, welfare, and emergency assistance, it must have the ability to build up a Rainy Day fund in boom times. One can not dispute that the Democrats did a poor job of setting one aside, but at least they did it to some degree. While they did what they did, the Republicans like Eyewash were pumping out their usual "I got mine f*#k you" garbage.

Anandakos

Posted Thu, Jul 23, 1:15 p.m. Inappropriate


Oh, another thing about the property tax freeze in California. Proposition 1 holds taxes (relatively) constant by freezing ASSESSMENT. However, when a property is sold, it is then reassessed to the then-current value. Thus only a tiny fraction of homes, which tend to change hands about every six years, are still taxed at the 1980 level.

However, and I expect that there is something in 1033 that accomplishes the same corporate goal as that of Prop 1, since commercial and industrial property almost NEVER changes hands, development existing in 1980 is largely still assessed at the 1980 values and any added since then is assessed at its value when first assessed.

You can be sure that Eyewash has figured out some way to give his corporate masters the same sort of break.

Anandakos

Posted Thu, Jul 23, 9:17 p.m. Inappropriate

Earlier post said I-1033 doesn't allow "the ability to build up a Rainy Day fund"

response: Not true. I-1033's section 2, subsection 2 reads (note the 2nd sentence): For purposes of this section, "general fund revenue" means the aggregate of revenue from taxes, fees, and other governmental charges received by state government that are deposited in any fund subject to the state expenditure limit under RCW 43.135.025. “General fund revenue” does not include the funds required to be transferred into the fund created under Article 7, Section 12 of the state constitution and does not include funds transferred from that fund. “General fund revenue” does not include revenue received from the federal government.

Article 7, Section 12 of the state constitution is the rainy day fund, created by voters in 2007 (officially called the Budget Stabilization Act): http://www.ofm.wa.gov/fund/100/fund14b.htm

So, general fund revenues going into and out of the rainy day fund are exempt from I-1033's limit.

So, just to be clear: what happens to excess tax revenues that government collects above I-1033’s limit? After a fixed percentage of tax revenue is transferred into the constitutionally-protected rainy day fund, the remainder of excess tax revenues gets refunded back to taxpayers via lower property taxes.

I-1033 allows the government to grow, but at a rate that the citizens can control and the taxpayers can afford.

teyman

Posted Sun, Jul 26, 3:26 p.m. Inappropriate

Tim Eyman's I-1033 was actually funded by mainly 3 people despite Eyman's claiming grassroots support.

You can read about Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033 Grassroot Joke here:

http://www.majorityrules.org/blog/2009/07/initiative-1033-eymans-latest-wealth.html

The truth is that 86.5% of Eyman's money came from just 3 sources.
Michael Dunmire of Woodinville gave $300,000. Tim Eyman borrowed $250,000 and loaned it to the campaign. And Kemper Holdings LLC of Bellevue owned by Kemper Freeman who owns Bellevue Square Mall gave $25,000.

These top 3 donors in the campaign contributed 86.5% of the total cash raised. This hardly sounds like a grassroots campaign to me. Especially since they spent $598,081 to get the signatures. That's an average of $1.89/signature. Where's the grassroots?

— Steve Zemke Majority Rules Blog

Posted Sun, Jul 26, 6:39 p.m. Inappropriate

out of the 48,148 supporters who were mailed a I-1033 petition in February, an extraordinary 34,588 sent back a partially filled or fully filled petition, and 315,444 citizens signed a petition.

Opponents, on the other hand, have raised $52,500 ($25,000 from the Washington Education Association, $25,000 from the WA Service Employees Int'l Union SEIU, $2500 from the WA Council of County & City Employees).

3 groups, no individuals, that's it.

It was these same groups (and the groups that will join them) that pushed very hard for big tax hikes and a state income tax during the last legislative session AND EVEN GREGOIRE AND THE DEMOCRATS rejected doing that. In other words, these groups are on the absolute far extreme when it comes to tax policy. Opponents are against ANY limit on government's ability to unilaterally take as much as they want from the taxpayers.

teyman

Posted Sun, Jul 26, 8:04 p.m. Inappropriate

Tim, its impossible that "34,588 sent back a partially filled or fully filled petition." You only turned in 19,317 petitions. And this includes all those that you paid for. It sounds like another "Tim Eyman Initiative 1033 Grassroots Joke." I think you meant to say that some 34,588 signatures came back from your supporters. This is only about 11% of the signatures you turned in.

If you actually received petitions from 34,588 folks, why weren't they turned in?

And while you turned in 315,444 signatures, some 12% of those were invalid. So only about 277,591 signatures according to the statistical analysis were valid.

Posted Sun, Jul 26, 8:12 p.m. Inappropriate

Lots of folks are already lining up against I-1033. The No campaign is just getting started as it didn't make sense to organize a campaign until it was certain there was an initiative on the ballot. The Secretary of State just verifed that. Expect much more to happen Tim. Here's a list of organizations lining up to oppose Initiatve 1033.

AARP Washington
Amalgamated Transit Union 1015
American Federation of Teachers Washington, AFL-CIO
Alzheimer's Association, Western and Central Washington Chapter
Asian Pacific Islander Coalition of King County
Central Washington Progress
Children's Alliance
Heart of America Northwest
King County Democrats
Lutheran Public Policy Office
Washington State Council of Fire Fighters
Fuse Washington
Futurewise
Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce
The Nature Conservancy of Washington
OneAmerica
Planned Parenthood Votes! Washington
Puget Sound Sage
Raising Our APA Representation
SEIU 775
SEIU 925
SEIU 1199
Sahngnoksoo
Sierra Club, Cascade Chapter
Statewide Poverty Action Network
Surfrider Foundation
Transportation Choices Coalition
UFCW Local 21
Washington Association of Churches
Washington Bus
Washington Education Association
Washington Federation of State Employees
Washington Low Income Housing Alliance
Washington Stand for Children
Washington State Council of County and City Employees, AFSCME Council 2
Washington State Hospital Association
Washington State Labor Council
Washington State Senior Citizen's Lobby

If you bellong to an organization that opposes I-1033 go to their website and add your name. http://no1033.com/about/

Posted Sun, Jul 26, 8:56 p.m. Inappropriate

315,444 citizens signed onto I-1033 and we are very excited about the widespread grassroots support its policies inspire. Opponents certainly speak for a segment of the voting public, but we're hopeful that once the voters hear both sides, they'll support I-1033's reenactment of I-601's fiscal discipline and endorse I-1033's property tax relief.

teyman

Posted Mon, Jul 27, 10:52 a.m. Inappropriate

Tim what happened to all the petitions your "grassroots" sent back to you. Or is this just another one of your overhyped inaccurate misrepresentations of fact. Since you have added new comments since I wrote mine about your mirepresentation you seem to be avoiding responding.

Saying over and over how much grassroots support you have doesn't make it so. Probably 9 out of 10 people who signed did so when asked by a paid signature gatherer.

I am more than hopeful that when voters hear both sides they will oppose I-1033 and will vote No on 1033 in November. They will vote their self interest and it doesn't make sense for everyone to pay sales tax and then use the money to pay the property taxes of the wealthy. That what they would do under your reverse Robin Hood scheme of tax the poor and give a tax break to big property owners.

If sales taxes are too high then reduce sales taxes. Or if seniors are having problems paying property taxes and do not have enough income then increase the senior citizen property tax exemption. The Legislature has the power do do this and has obviously done this.

You don't have much credibility saying this is illegal since it is current law. You certainly have had your share of initiatives tossed out which is all the more reason to question your legal credibility.

Posted Mon, Jul 27, 11:20 a.m. Inappropriate

no alternative offered by opponents, only higher taxes and a state income tax. No alternative to property tax relief other than illegal schemes that can't work under Washington's Constitution and aren't even supported by majority Democrats.

teyman

Posted Tue, Jul 28, 7:42 a.m. Inappropriate

Nothing in I-1033 prevents the state, counties, or cities from setting aside money in rainy day funds.
— timeyman

Wrong on two accounts.

At the state level, Article 7, Section 12 mandates a 1% contribution to a rainy day fund. There is no question the contributions should be larger. Without amending the percentage rate, I-1033 would prevent any additional contributions necessary to level out economic cycles.

I-1033 does not exempt county and local rainy day funds. By specifically calling out the state fund and not the others, a reasonable judge would conclude the state/local rainy day funds are not exempt. This takes out the ability of these governments to put money aside. This is terrible public policy

This is a very flawed initiative and should be voted down.

ddmiller

Posted Tue, Jul 28, 1:05 p.m. Inappropriate

This is totally untrue. The state, counties and cities can set aside as much money as they want for rainy day funds within I-1033's limits.

If government decides that the automatic increase provided by I-1033 isn't a big enough increase, they can always go to the voters and ask for a bigger increase. Bringing back I-601's fiscal discipline will be nothing but a good thing for government.

teyman

Posted Sun, Aug 2, 1:24 p.m. Inappropriate

I-1033 is just another one of libertarian Tim Eyman's attempts to reduce government. It is not meant to address any real problem in state spending because we are actually at the state and local level not overtaxed. The Tax Foundation ranks Washington State as 35th (with 1 being the highest) in terms of state and local property tax burden per capita.

Tax fairness is another issue as sales taxes which account for 57% of state revenue last years disproportinately falls on those least able to pay. But I-1033 doesn't reduce sales taxes.

We rank 8th highest in terms of income per capita.

We rank 24th in terms of property taxes on owner occupied houses.

We have no income tax.

We have a very high sales tax which everyone pays. Under I-1033 sales tax dollars everyone pays would be transferred to both commercial and residential property owners in the form of a special property tax break. The more property you own the more of a tax break you would get.

But only 65% of households in Washington State are owner occupied so 35% of households that also pay sales tax will see no benefit from I-1033.

Some 40% of property taxes are commercial. So people's sales tax dollars will go to pay property taxes for big corporations and other large property owners like Bellevue Square and other malls. That's probably why Kemper Freeman who owns Bellevue Square gave $25,000 to help get I-1033 on the ballot.

I-1033 does not help low income property owners like senior citizens on fixed or limited income or working families. They are being used by Eyman as folks needing help but if he really wanted to help them, rather than a reverse Robin Hood wealth transfer scheme like I-1033, there are other things to do, like just lower the sales tax or increase the current Homestead Property Tax Break for Senior Citizens and the Disabled.

The restrictions in I-1033 were tried in Colorado and failed. Vote No on I-1033 this November.

Posted Sun, Aug 2, 3:25 p.m. Inappropriate

Opponents want higher taxes and a state income tax -- they think taxpayers are UNDERTAXED. I-1033 brings back the successful fiscal discipline of I-601, policies that Gregoire and the Democrats got rid of in 2005, resulting in a $9 billion deficit. I-1033 reinstates a reasonable limit on government's growth and if government thinks the automatic increase allowed by I-1033 isn't a big enough increase, then they can go to the voters and ask for an even bigger increase.

raising taxes and imposing a state income tax, the fervent desire of I-1033's opponents, will only make things worse. I-1033's fiscal discipline will make sure that government doesn't face a $9 billion deficit ever again.

http://www.VotersWantMoreChoices.com

teyman

Posted Sun, Aug 2, 7:07 p.m. Inappropriate

I-1033 would impose a permanent government freeze on spending. All that programs could do is keep pace at their current level, any increase in inflation and population over the current level funds no new services. It would only at best keep existing programs at their current level.

Think of your own income, if all you got was a wage tied to inflation do you have any more to spend on grocies or heat? No because the increase goes to pay for inflation.

In addition I-1033 actually decreases spending everytime there is a recession or decrease in revenue and then it locks that level in as a new baseline. The only way to fund the lost programs like children's healthcare, decreased spending for K-12 and colleges, parks, environmental proection, senior homecare, mental health services and all the rest cut this year is for a vote of the people.

The baseline for next year's budget is this year's spending not last years.
And that is the intent of I-1033, to cut the ability of cities and counties and the state to provide services. It is being pushed cynically by those who oppose our way of life in Washington State, They want to emulate Grover Norquist and the right wing consevative movement's failed policies to try to reduce government to a size where "it can be drowned in a bathtub"

If you believe that government is evil and that our elected officials are out to tax and tax then sure vote for I-1033.

But remember I-1033 claims Washington State's taxes are obscene and out of control. The conservative Tax Foudation says that our state and local tax burden ranks 35th (with 1 being the highest) in terms of tax burden compared to the other 49 states.

I don't like taxes anymore than anyone else but they are helping to educate our children so they can get good jobs and have a future. They help keep our colleges going and fund research. They help to pay for keeping our roads up and providing transit. They pay for police and fire proection and help to keep our environment from being destroyed by pollution. I like clean air and water and parks and libraries. Our tax dollars pay for these. They are not free.

If we can do better, great but I-1033 is not the answer. If we're concerned about senior keeping their homes, then raise the senior property tax exemption. But if you think seniors will benefit from I-1033 you're sorely mistaken. The property tax benefit goes to those with property and the more property you have the more of a brak you will get.

Is that really where you want your sales tax dollars to go? I don't think so. Vote No on I-1033. Say No to transferring more of our tax dollars to the wealthy. Vote No and keep control of your local city and county budgets.

Posted Sun, Aug 2, 7:53 p.m. Inappropriate

Opponents don't deny that they think taxpayers are UNDERTAXED. Opponents don't deny that they want higher taxes and a state income tax. Colorado and California have income taxes - Washington doesn't. Opponents desperately want Washington to emulate other states that have income taxes.

Opponents don't want lower taxes, but throw out suggested changes that ARE TOTALLY ILLEGAL UNDER OUR STATE CONSTITUTION. THAT'S ONE OF THE MANY REASONS WHY MAJORITY DEMOCRATS NEVER, EVER PASS ANY OF THESE PROPOSALS. Opponents don't want taxpayers to pay less, they want them paying more, much more, with higher taxes and a state income tax ON TOP OF what we already pay.

I-1033 brings back the successful fiscal discipline of I-601, policies that Gregoire and the Democrats got rid of in 2005, resulting in a $9 billion deficit. I-1033 reinstates a reasonable limit on government's growth and if government thinks the automatic increase allowed by I-1033 isn't a big enough increase, then they can go to the voters and ask for an even bigger increase.

raising taxes and imposing a state income tax, the fervent desire of I-1033's opponents, will only make things worse. I-1033's fiscal discipline will make sure that government doesn't face a $9 billion deficit ever again.

http://www.VotersWantMoreChoices.com

teyman

Posted Thu, Aug 6, 10:41 p.m. Inappropriate

I-1033 is not fiscal discipline, it is a freeze on government providing services in years when the economy is good and it is negative growth when the economy is bad. There is no way limiting spending to the previous year's spending in recessions can yield anything but negative growth. The baseline ratchets down as tax revenue decreases and any increase the next year is limited to inflation and a population factor.

In good year's I-1033 would not allow any increase in services because adjusting for inflation only keeps pace with the increased costs of providing the services as adjusted for inflation. And if you have more people, providing services for the new people to the same level as current residents does not increase services for current residents. It only pays for increased services to take care of the increased population.

Rather than pay for some of the services lost during a recession due to decreased revenue, new revenue generated when the economy improves instead
will transfer sales tax dollars to pay property taxes for the wealthy.
I don't care to see my sales tax dollars go to pay real estate taxes for Kemper Freeman's Bellevue Square Mall (Freeman gave $25,000 to help get I-1033 on the ballot). I don't think fixed and low income seniors and working families want to see their sales tax dollars go to pay Boeing's real estate taxes rather than funding education for their kids.

I-1033 is a poorly thought out measure that will create many new problems for our state and is not needed. Both Colorado and California have seen the dire consequences of too much meedling around with bizarre initiatives like I-1033 which make government work inefficiently and prevent it from providing services back to the tax paying public.

Vote No on I-1033 this November 3rd and keep local control of our taxes and spending.

for more information on the impacts of I-1033 go to www.no1033.com

Posted Sat, Aug 8, 12:30 p.m. Inappropriate

Interesting article - provides an interesting perspective:

What Nobody Tells You About Washington's Permanent Tax Revolt

How Come the Sky Doesn’t Fall?

http://www.yourhealthcaretoday.com/home/1167-what_nobody_tells_you_about_washington_s_permanent_tax_revolt.htm

teyman

Posted Fri, Aug 14, 6:56 p.m. Inappropriate

I-1033 is Tim Eyman's clone of a failed measure in Colorado. It was called TABOR or Taxpayer Bill of Rights. It also tried to limit government spending on the state and local level to the previous year's spending plus a slight adjustment for inflation and population growth.

The trouble is one size doesn't fit all. Inflation in I-1033 is a national consumer price index measure. States vary as to inflation as do regions. Second, state services like education and health care have historically risen faster than the consumer price index.

The result in Colorado was a decrease every year in government services - funding for K-12 education slide Colorado from 35th to 49th lowest in the county. Roads deteriorated. School programs were cut, Childrens health care and childhood vaccinations dropped. The list goes on and on.

Colorado voters finally decided to suspend the measure to allow services to rise to a more reasonable level. We don't need to repeat Colorado's failed experiment here in Washington State.

You can watch a video on youtube about the Colorado experience by going to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbF3_CiOtoM

Posted Sun, Aug 16, 8:03 p.m. Inappropriate

Here's an excellent "one page" description of I-1033's policies and principles:

http://kpbj.com/headlines/2009-08-04_i_1033_lets_citizens_control_how_fast_government_grows

teyman

Posted Fri, Aug 21, 10:49 a.m. Inappropriate

Let's get real here. I-1033 is a radical proposal to freeze spending for public services. Starting at this year's baseline of state spending that saw a $9 billion shortfall and numerous cuts in state services, like education, children's healthcare and many other programs no matter how good next year's economy is, I-1033 says we can not fund any of the cut programs above inflation and population. It's a permanent freeze on public services.

There is no growth in services when the only increase is adding a slight adjustment for inflation and population. Any adjustment for inflation only allows you to provide the same level of services as the previous year which now cost more due to inflation. Adjusting for any population increase does not mean people get a higher level of services - you are paying to cover more people needing the service.

The reality unfortunately is that actual services will decrease because most public service costs rise faster than Eyman's consumer inflation index. Therefore you will get less services for the same price.

I-1033 is a clone of a failed constitutional amendment passed by Colorado voters that resulted in year after year cuts in public services. Colorado K-12 education funding went from 35th to 49th in the nation. Colorado voters finally suspended the amendment known as TABOR or Taxpayer Bill of Rights to try to resore public services. Colorado was the only state to pass TABOR despite numerous attempts in many other states.

I-1033 is attempting to freeze government services and the actual result is it decreases public services. If a city or town wants to hire new firemen or police it will have to have a public vote or it will have to cut public services elsewhere.

You can read more about TABOR by going to
http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id;=2521

Posted Tue, Aug 25, 3:07 p.m. Inappropriate

Here’s what we’re debating with 1033: how fast should the government grow and who should decide? 1033 takes the position that the public sector should grow at the same rate as the private sector -- unless voters OK a bigger increase -- and it should be the citizens, and not the politicians, who decide.

1033 brings back successful policies passed by the voters previously. In 1993, during tough economic times, voters approved Initiative 601, which put reasonable limits on government’s fiscal policies. 601 established a sustainable rate for government to grow, saying it could grow at the inflation rate plus population growth with faster growth requiring voter approval.

Despite a multi-million-dollar opposition campaign, the voters passed 601.

And 601 worked very well for many years until the Legislature started putting loopholes in it. It started with the Republicans in 1998, and accelerated with the Democrats in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2007. Those loopholes removed 601’s reasonable fiscal discipline and policies.

The result? Two major deficits — $3.2 billion in 2003 and $9 billion in 2009.

Those loopholes allowed them to take their budgets on a fiscal roller coaster, overextending themselves in good times — creating unsustainable budgets — which led to slashing during bad times. 1033 gets us off that fiscal roller coaster by reestablishing 601’s same reasonable allowance for growth while permitting higher increases with voter approval.

601 worked, it can work again with the passage of 1033.

So what happens to excess tax revenues that government collects above 1033’s limit? After a fixed percentage of tax revenue is transferred into the constitutionally-protected rainy day fund, the remainder of excess tax revenues gets refunded back to taxpayers via lower property taxes. Struggling working families and fixed-income senior citizens desperately need relief from our state’s crushing property tax burden. Washington shouldn’t be a state where only rich people can afford a home. 1033 provides needed, long-overdue property tax relief.

Opponents want higher taxes and a state income tax. Opponents are against ANY limit on government’s growth and against ANY restriction on government’s power to take as much as they want from the taxpayers.

1033 provides fiscal discipline with flexibility: any revenue from any source deposited into general funds is limited except voter-approved revenues, rainy day funds, and federal funds for the state and except voter-approved revenues for counties & cities.

Putting a reasonable limit on the growth of government, like 601 previously did, gives politicians the excuse to say ‘no’ to the special interest groups and encourages them to finally start prioritizing and reforming government.

Opponents have no alternative to 1033 to lower property taxes. Opponents have no alternative to 1033 to get government off the fiscal roller coaster. Opponents want us to trust the politicians, despite their insatiable appetite for higher taxes. Opponents ignore the 16 years of positive history with Initiative 601 in Washington state, preferring instead to talk about different tax limits in California, Colorado, and other states. Opponents are against 1033 because it allows the people, and not the politicians, to decide how fast the government should grow and how big a tax burden we can afford.

Both Forbes magazine and the Tax Foundation rank Washington as the 8th highest taxed state in the nation. 1033 keeps us from hitting #1.

Property taxes keep going higher and higher and government keeps getting bigger and bigger. The people are losing control. 1033 allows the state, counties, and cities to grow, but at a rate that citizens can control and taxpayers can afford. 1033 gets government off the fiscal roller coaster, allowing it to grow at a sustainable rate that doesn’t outpace taxpayers’ ability to afford it.

1033 is needed now more than ever.

We’re very proud of our supporters and very hopeful that voters will support controlling the growth of government and lowering property taxes by approving 1033 in November. Thank you.

http://www.VotersWantMoreChoices.com

teyman

Posted Mon, Sep 7, 10:05 p.m. Inappropriate

One frequently overlooked aspect of Eyman's Initiative 1033 is that it proposes to radically alter representative government. It also radically alters the concept of local control.

I-1033 proposes to end budget making decisions by elected representatives for all 39 Washington counties and 281 cities. By freezing their spending at this year's recession level, all their can do is hope to continue funding existing services. They will not have the ability to spend new revenue that comes in to bring back any services lost beause of the recession or to fund any other new services.

Eyman has determined that the highest priority of government is now to help property owners pay their property taxes. Forget adding any more police and fire protection, repairing roads, keeping parks and libraries open and so on.

Any future decisions to fund new services will now be decided by referendums. Eyman is stripping cities and counties of their current power to deal with any new revenue that comes in as the economy improves.

There is no reason or rationale for this drastic change besides Eyman's belief that government can do no good and all taxes are bad and need to be decreased or eliminated. I=1033 is not a new idea but has been circulating the country for years courtesy of conservatives like Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. Grover Norqwuit's idea is to reduce governemnt until he can drown it in a bathtub.

I-1033 is an idea eminating from the far right wing and deserves to be drowned at the polls by a cascade of NO votes. It's a fringe idea that has been repeatedly rejected by voters in other states at the polls.

In 2006 Oregon, Maine and Nebraska voters rejected these public spending freeze proposals by overwhelming NO votes. We should do no less.

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