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Tim Eyman: Democrats shouldn't repeat 2010 tax-hike debacle in 2015

Guest Opinion: Have voters have changed their minds on higher taxes? The initiative guru on what happened the last time Olympia went "hog wild" raising taxes.
Tim Eyman

Tim Eyman

"Definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."  That saying is particularly appropriate regarding Democratic legislators' current talk about raising taxes.

A history lesson is needed.

In 2009, we had a setback: The tax initiative that I and my supporters proposed that year didn't succeed.

A November 2009 oped published in the Times was entitled "End of Tim Eyman era signals opportunities for reform." The guest columnist wrote: "Tim Eyman may be finished." And, he suggested, "Eyman has cast a dark shadow over this state in the 12 years that he has been writing initiatives that locked down government spending, imposed supermajority rules on the Legislature and banned affirmative action. The Legislature has been hamstrung by his successful initiatives and paralyzed by fear that he will launch others."

He went on suggest that "the shadow" might be lifting, noting over the previous five years two of our measures had passed, two had been defeated and two failed to qualify for the ballot. He concluded: "It is time for our leaders to stop being afraid of the Eyman shadow and get to work solving problems."

His advice? Raise taxes. 

The Democrat-dominated Legislature and their allies certainly followed that advice, going hog wild in 2010. They immediately repealed our Initiative 960 passed by voters in 2007, which had protected taxpayers in 2008 and 2009 by making it tougher to raise taxes. They then raised taxes $7.1 billion. Bill Gates Sr., Nick Hanauer and Big Labor even pushed for a new state income tax with Initiative 1098. 

What was the response to their tax-hiking pig-out? A gargantuan coalition rose up against I-1098's state income tax scheme and voters crushed it at the polls. The soda pop industry challenged the Democrats' assault on the middle class and sponsored I-1107, which voters overwhelmingly passed.

We resurrected the two-thirds-for-taxes vote requirement with Initiative 1053 and — thanks to a $250,000 loan from a second mortgage on my house and strong business and citizen support — our initiative qualified for the ballot. Nearly two-thirds of voters passed it. And voters in swing districts voted out of office seven to nine Democrats, laying the groundwork for the eventual takeover in the state Senate by the Majority Coalition Caucus. 

The voters in November 2010 unambiguously repudiated the tax-hiking binge.

The Democrats' hubris in raising taxes was a direct result of assuming that, because one of our initiatives didn't succeed, it meant that the voters had suddenly changed their minds and were now clamoring for tax hikes. It was dumb and they paid a heavy price for it.

I'm watching it happen all over again. 

The Times' column a week ago was a carbon copy of that 2009 column. The staff columnist this time wrote “Is Tim Eyman through?” and referred to "planning for A.E. (after Eyman)."

Democrats running for legislative seats are clearly signaling massive tax increases next year. As reported in The Columbian last month: “(Democrat leader) State Rep. Jim Moeller is already predicting the sticking point that will keep lawmakers in Olympia next June: raising the sales tax by one penny or by two." Talk of a new state income tax is everywhere, as are pushes for higher business taxes and bigger property taxes.

The Legislature is on track to make the same mistake they made in 2010.

The lawmakers are ignoring the fact that our tougher-to-raise-taxes Initiative 1185 in 2012 received more votes than any initiative in state history. Those 1.9 million voters are still there, dominating the 44 of 49 legislative districts outside Seattle. 

Our initiatives flourish when Olympia refuses to listen. Democratic politicians should learn from their 2010 tax-hiking debacle and not make that egregious mistake again in 2015. To avoid an inevitable and certain business and citizen revolt, Olympia should not raise taxes next year and instead make do — so to speak — with the nearly $3 billion in increased tax revenue the state's projections confirm they’ll have for the next budget cycle. Prioritize spending using existing revenue; it’s what the people clearly want.


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Comments:

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 6:22 a.m. Inappropriate

Tim, with all due respect, go to hell.

ivan

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 7:59 a.m. Inappropriate

You are classless, Ivan.

BlueLight

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 1:29 p.m. Inappropriate

Ivan may be blunt, but he's accurate!

elbowman

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 3:07 p.m. Inappropriate

Accurate in what? Telling someone to go to hell? A 4th grader can do that. Is that the level of discourse you aspire to/support, elbowman?

BlueLight

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 9:24 p.m. Inappropriate

You are making some theological forecast here? Or are you sharing in the namecalling? Really, the posting is just hostility and should be deleted (as should all such hostility to guest commentators).

simorgh

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 4:52 p.m. Inappropriate

A mother and step-father were just murdered with an ax by their mentally ill son due to mental health spending cuts, at least partly caused by anti-tax measures such as Eyman's.

Note that Eyman has made no effort to make our state tax system more equitable, with lower to middle income earners paying substantially more relative to their incomes than higher income earners. Cuts in essential services hit lower to middle income earners much harder than higher income earners.

Posted Fri, Jul 25, 6:57 a.m. Inappropriate

"A mother and step-father were just murdered with an ax by their mentally ill son due to mental health spending cuts, at least partly caused by anti-tax measures such as Eyman's."

Citation please.

Simon

Posted Fri, Jul 25, 8:34 a.m. Inappropriate

He heard it at the caucus, it must be true.

BlueLight

Posted Tue, Jul 29, 9:41 a.m. Inappropriate

With no due respect, please run yourself and your "progressive" bicycle in front of a bus.

NotFan

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 8:43 a.m. Inappropriate

Nobody likes to pay taxes, Tim. The question is how to pay for services. Simply cutting taxes is not a solution. Yes, it can put pressure to optimize. But, typically, optimization doesn't occur. Instead cuts occur, meaning needed services are lost.

We need to approach the situation differently. Optimization is difficult and takes time, maybe years. I wish you would spend your efforts discovering and inventing ways to constructively help various parts of the government work more efficiently instead of trying to beat them to death.

pragmatic

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 9:01 a.m. Inappropriate

When the question is "how to pay for services" our government needs to quit inventing "services" for us. I wish Tim would run an initiative to the effect that before a legislator can put a new law on the books they must first remove two existing. It would entail a little vegetable eating, but it would limit special interest and ego-driven "services" for which we are, forever then, expected to pay.

BlueLight

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 9:26 a.m. Inappropriate

I think that it would be more useful to spend money collected in the previous year to pay for current year expenses. You know exactly how much there is to spend and you don't have to make panic cuts because sales tax revenue takes a nose dive, and you can't gleefully dump extra sales tax revenue in your favorite pet project if there is a surplus. You can't make an honest budget if you are making plans for money that you don't have yet.

talisker

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 12:32 p.m. Inappropriate

Nobody lives like that, even you I suspect. Nor any business.

That said, we would all be spared much grief if governments would maintain adequate reserves and forecast revenues with less giddiness. Metro's 2005-7 revenue forecasting was incredibly incompetent and they still use a forecasting model with no recessions. Incompetent forecasters are rarely fired, when they are employed by governments.

simorgh

Posted Fri, Jul 25, 10:18 p.m. Inappropriate

It might entail a little vegetable eating by various groups like chicken farmers who get a break in buying feed, and other such really important service sectors. There are hundreds of tax breaks on the books that should never have been there. Another example would be Microsoft's server farms. Let's cut those tax breaks before we cut services that you think shouldn't be there, like health care for mentally ill people (and everyone has someone in their family who needs mental health care).

sarah90

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 1:35 p.m. Inappropriate

Pragmatic is correct, in that all Eyman and his cronies want to do is not pay for anything. The result being, for example, the quality of the roads we drive on today. Since we've cut taxes, and people are driving less and using electric vehicles more, our roads are a potholed and rutted mess.

We need to pay for services we receive. Cutting for the sake of cutting puts us all in a pothole.

There are plenty of other examples, beyond just roads.

elbowman

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 9:37 a.m. Inappropriate

I wish we could have an ballot measure that outlaws the use of paid signature gatherers. It would push the initiative process back to what it was meant to be - a tool for the populace and not corporations.

It would also force this former college ring salesman and gadfly to get a real job instead of slopping from the corporate trough while acting like a man of the people.

Treker

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 10:06 a.m. Inappropriate

Only if we can, also, require legislators to write their own bills. It would push the legislative process back to what it was meant to be - a tool for the populace and not corporations, labor unions, non-profits and other special-interest groups.

BlueLight

Posted Fri, Jul 25, 10:20 p.m. Inappropriate

Do you include conservative Republican legislators? Because they don't write their own bills either.

sarah90

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 1:02 p.m. Inappropriate

Tim Eyman: Please shut up. That is all.

SeaRod

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 9:25 p.m. Inappropriate

Likewise to you, SeaRod

simorgh

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 1:41 p.m. Inappropriate

Tim, You have made tons of money convincing people that taxation is the equivalent of communism, theft, or worse. Rather than using your apparent political skills to make a contribution to our state, you chose to have a career in harnessing greed and cheapness to hobble the state's progress. So we rank high in class size, low in per-capita school funding, our roads and bridges are crumbling, and we continue to have the nation's most regressive tax system. You must be very proud.

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 1:42 p.m. Inappropriate

"In 2009, we had a setback: The tax initiative that I and my supporters proposed that year didn't succeed."

For Tim and crew this was a setback. For the rest of the State is was a huge step toward seeing the end of his idiotic plan to gut us of the services we have decided are necessary for our quality of life.

We don't need a supermajority requirement on spending bills. The very concept goes against a Democratic society. A simple majority is all that should be required to pass any legislation.

It's time we turn back everything Tim Eyman stands for, because he doesn't stand for Washington.

elbowman

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 2:19 p.m. Inappropriate

Sales tax receipts must go up with both population and economic activity. Why does that formula not provide state income that is appropriate for each passing biennium? likewise, property taxes go up (indirectly but relentlessly) with increasing population and associated economic pressures. Yes, we have recessions and both those sources falter but for now and for the next few years it looks like we will have bountiful tax income for the state. Why does this not work? well, just one example, DSHS increases its take every year, good and bad (unlike education and unlike road maintenance both of which suffer during hard times).

Other states have more "flexible" (easy legislative increases) sources of income (California and Oregon come to mind) but it is not clear that they have "solved" the continuing dilemma of feeding the State appetite while letting the citizen progress on his own. Mr. Eyman serves as a lightening rod for legislators, gets called names, told to shut up (see above) but he has obviously been an effective advocate for taxpayers. He deserves our thanks.

kieth

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 5:30 p.m. Inappropriate

"...likewise, property taxes go up (indirectly but relentlessly) with increasing population and associated economic pressures."

Wrong. Annual growth in property tax revenues (not rates) is essentially limited to 1%, unless approved by voters. This effectively means that voter approval is necessary to not decrease rates, if population or the economy grows.

Posted Sat, Jul 26, 10:32 a.m. Inappropriate

How the Washington State website explains the 1% limit: On a $1 million property tax revenue...
" it (a taxing entity) can only receive $1.01 million the next year, plus any tax revenues generated by new construction added to the tax rolls in the past year."

Note that "plus" clause. The total taxable base rises with increased population (immigrants need places to live, to shop, to fix their teeth). New construction to accommodate growth results in increased tax revenue and, as I argue above, this (plus the 1%) should reasonably be expected to cover the increased cost of governing.

kieth

Posted Thu, Jul 24, 2:48 p.m. Inappropriate

What a bunch of crap. Let's take infrastructure as an example. Once roads, bridges, sidewalks, etc. are built there automatically is no maintenance and replacement budget that tags along. Along with a successful economy in the PNW comes more demands on the traffic infrastructure - added to that is the fact that most of the major infrastructure is well past its engineering design life and there you go. A pretty hefty backlog.

Enter the demigods. Only if government were more efficient!! Let's have them do more with less and they'll get smarter at spending our money! Bottom line is that we have a lousy tax structure here in WA and the wealthy donors and corporate interests that have funded the Eyeman gravy train just don't want to pay a fair share.

The Chamber of Commerce and other business entities are now shying away from Mr. Eyeman because the consequences of his follies are now becoming apparent. A vibrant economy requires long-term investment in infrastructure, schools, transportation, and planning. It's not rocket surgery.

Treker

Posted Wed, Jul 30, 12:05 a.m. Inappropriate

Has nothing to do with services. The minute you "progressives" get a tax increase, you hand it to your friends in the public employee unions.

NotFan

Posted Fri, Jul 25, 7:15 a.m. Inappropriate

I love how liberals argue they just want roads and basic services (police, fire, schools) and they swear, nothing else! No other programs! We swear! Just BASIC services!

Tim Eyman: Washington State hero.

Simon

Posted Fri, Jul 25, 4:36 p.m. Inappropriate

Yea. Ex-college watch salesman figures out a way to live off the skimmings of the wealthy elite and corporations. Get a job already!

Hero.

Now that stretches the imagination of the definition.

Treker

Posted Fri, Jul 25, 10:24 p.m. Inappropriate

There have been at least $10 billion -- BILLION, not million -- dollars in cuts in the last 5 years in human services. You know, services that are needed by human beings, like health care, food, and all those things that conservatives feel should not be necessary if everyone just got a job, I guess. Of course, more people who have jobs are not making a living wage anymore. So I'm no longer sure just what conservatives think those human beings should do -- just disappear?

sarah90

Posted Sun, Jul 27, 11:58 a.m. Inappropriate

Sarah, it would be a good thing to have a link that confirms that $10 billion in cuts. I guess I am a conservative and I probably feel the same way as you do about poverty/addiction/homelessness but I think most conservatives by this time are looking at the problem from the other side: how much of the state's budget can be spent on physical/mental/addiction problems? I am sure there is no amount of money that will adequately fund programs that purport to deal with health/addiction/mental imbalance, the demand will always outstrip the supply and, if vigorously pursued, would probably consume the entire State budget. The fact that Washington shortchanges its students and teachers to fund DSHS should be a scandal. I think your concerns should start with the schools and parents.

kieth

Posted Tue, Jul 29, 8:29 p.m. Inappropriate

Well, Sarah, maybe they should do the same thing that the "progressives" want the old, the disabled, and the mobility-challenged who can't ride bicycles to do.

NotFan

Posted Sun, Jul 27, 8:48 p.m. Inappropriate

" Democratic politicians should learn from their 2010 tax-hiking debacle and not make that egregious mistake again in 2015." Whether it was a mistake or not, isn't Mr. Eyman's livelihood dependent on them doing the same things again?

WSDW

Posted Tue, Jul 29, 3:11 p.m. Inappropriate

When you look at what the state and Seattle spend money on, one thing becomes clear as a bell: There is absolutely no shortage of tax money for this state's "progressives" to waste on their latest pet project. The only public-spirited thing to do here is vote "NO" on every single tax and levy proposal, no matter what it's supposedly for.

NotFan

Posted Tue, Jul 29, 8:42 p.m. Inappropriate

Yawn

The ear310rt is flat, the moon is made of green cheese, unicorns run wild, and the world was created in 3,000'years. Any other unsubstantiated statements you would like to toss in?

If only we had the arm-waving video to go with the text. But it is a good performance arc to leave something to the imagination.

Bravo. Well done as usual.

Lily32

Posted Tue, Jul 29, 11:59 p.m. Inappropriate

Well, let's see. We got rid of your favorite Mayor McBike. We defeated two car tab increases. We're getting ready to knock down a parks tax increase. Every now and then we beat you and your kind. Oh, and we forced your governor to make a no-tax-increase pledge. True, he broke his word right out of the box, but he still has to be a lot more careful than you "progressives" would've preferred.

NotFan

Posted Wed, Jul 30, 11:24 a.m. Inappropriate

The first indication of a weak argument - or none - is diversion. Or it could be the continued semblance of this esoteric art form that you seem to have mastered.

If the latter - then bravo - keep pushing the creative envelope. If the former, alas, there is no rest for the weary.

Treker

Posted Thu, Aug 7, 9:47 p.m. Inappropriate

If he's really interested in helping the taxpayers, he might try for either: (1) a cap of 10% on sales taxes; or (2) full transparency for any agency that receives more than 25% of its funding from state revenues.

For the second, timely audio or video of all meetings where decisions are debated; online public comment forms, all staff reports online in a timely manner, pay and benefits of top 25 employees; on-time and on-budget reports for any expenses exceeding 10% of revenues, with explanation as to why they're behind (time and/or budget). Right now, too many of these entities are given close to a blank check, as they have little meaningful oversight.

bricsa

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