Statement on Judge Dean Lum’s decision in Huff v. Wyman

This afternoon, King County Superior Court Judge Dean Lum handed down his opinion in the matter of Huff v. Wyman, the legal challenge seeking to remove Tim Eyman’s I-1366 from the November 2015 statewide ballot on the grounds that it exceeds the scope of the people’s initiative power. While the judge declined to grant plaintiffs’ motion for an injunction barring I-1366 from the ballot (see this analysis from the Cascadia Advocate), he did find I-1366 beyond the scope.

Northwest Progressive Institute founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve released the following statement in response to the decision.

“We are heartened by Judge Lum’s unequivocal finding that Tim Eyman’s I-1366 is beyond the scope of the people’s initiative power. As we have said all along, I-1366 is a hostage-taking scheme intended to coerce our elected representatives into sabotaging the majority vote requirement of our state Constitution, upsetting our plan of government’s carefully crafted balance between majority rule and minority rights.”

“I-1366 goes well beyond what an initiative is constitutionally allowed to be. As Judge Lum recognized, it is a malicious attempt to set in motion a constitutional amendment by the use of blackmail.”

“Allowing I-1366 to go to the ballot would set a dangerous ‘anything goes’ precedent. Though Judge Lum did not grant the plaintiffs’ motion for an injunction barring I-1366 from appearing on the ballot, we are gratified that he has rendered an opinion on the merits of the plaintiffs’ scope challenge. This case now moves to the Supreme Court, and we encourage the Court to uphold our Constitution and stop Tim Eyman’s abuse of the people’s initiative power by removing I-1366 from the ballot.”

Posted in In the Courts | Tagged

NPI’s Permanent Defense applauds legal challenge to Tim Eyman’s I-1366

This morning, a group of plaintiffs, including King County Elections Director Sherril Huff, Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall, and Democratic lawmakers David Frockt and Reuven Carlyle filed a lawsuit seeking to block Tim Eyman’s incredibly destructive I-1366 from the ballot because it exceeds the scope of the initiative power as set forth in the Constitution of Washington State.

Northwest Progressive Institute founder Andrew Villeneuve had the following to say in response to the commencement of legal proceedings by the plaintiffs, represented by Pacifica Law Group’s Paul Lawrence, Kymberly Evanson, and Sarah Washburn.

“We applaud and fully support the decision by our elected representatives and fellow activists to go to court to have Tim Eyman’s I-1366 blocked from placement on the November 2015 ballot,” said Villeneuve.

“In our view, I-1366 clearly exceeds the scope of the people’s initiative power. It is an attempt to do an end-run around Article XXIII of our state Constitution, which explicitly says that constitutional amendments must originate in the Legislature and receive a two-thirds vote of each house to pass.”

“Tim Eyman has now discovered for himself that two-thirds is a very high bar… and as he doesn’t have the support in either house for an amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s League of Education Voters decision, he’s resorted to blackmail with I-1366.”

“But once again, he’s run afoul of our Constitution. Initiatives can be used to make or amend ordinary laws. The initiative power can’t be used to amend the Constitution. It is the Legislature’s prerogative to propose constitutional amendments to the people. Eyman is infringing on the House and Senate’s constitutional role by trying to coerce the Legislature into exercising its prerogative by threatening to wipe out $8 billion in sales tax revenue over six years if they don’t. Because I-1366 is outside the scope of the initiative power, our courts should remove it from the ballot and spare us all the time and expense of having to vote on Eyman’s illegitimate, illegal hostage-taking scheme.”

Posted in In the Courts | Tagged

Eyman’s I-1366 certified for ballot; jeopardizes $8 billion in revenue through 2021

As required by law, the Washington State Office of Financial Management (OFM) has completed a fiscal impact statement for Tim Eyman’s I-1366, which was today certified for the November 2015 statewide ballot by Secretary of State Kim Wyman.

According to OFM’s analysis, I-1366 is an even greater threat to Washington’s future than previously believed. The 13% sales tax cut that I-1366 would impose if legislators don’t submit to Eyman’s demand for a constitutional amendment to sabotage Article II, Section 22 translates to a loss of $1.4 billion a year in 2017, the first year it would fully be in effect. It only gets worse after that.

Through 2021, Washington’s treasury would be deprived of approximately $8 billion in funding for vital public services like schools and universities.

“OFM’s fiscal impact statement for I-1366 confirms what we’ve been saying for months about I-1366: This is the most destructive, mean-spirited initiative that Tim Eyman has ever qualified for the ballot,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder Andrew Villeneuve. “Eyman doesn’t have the votes in the Legislature to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2013 League of Education Voters decision, so he’s resorted to blackmail. And he’s taking Washington’s young people as his hostages.”

“We can see what’s at risk by looking at the state budget. The sales tax is easily our state’s largest single source of tax revenue, supplying nearly half of the money that goes into the general fund. And more than half of the general fund goes to K-12 schools, colleges, and universities.”

“Education is our single largest responsibility as a people. And, in the words of our Constitution, it is also our paramount duty. We are obligated, as a society, to make ample provision for the education of Washington’s youth.”

“”The Supreme Court has determined we have not been meeting this obligation and ordered our legislators to act. The slight progress the House and Senate have made to date towards complying with the Court’s McCleary orders is jeopardized by I-1366. Legislators just agreed on a bipartisan basis to put more money into schools and lower tuition. That carefully crafted agreement will be undone in the span of a few months if I-1366’s first scenario comes to pass,” Villeneuve said.

“And under other I-1366’s second scenario, our regressive tax code would be locked into place permanently. As few as seventeen senators – twelve percent of our entire Legislature – could kill any attempt to raise or recover revenue for our state treasury. Our founders strongly believed that decisions like these should be made by the many, not a few. We should honor and uphold the Constitution they gave us by rejecting I-1366.”

OFM’s analysis also determined that funding for implementation of I-900, Tim Eyman’s performance audits initiative from ten years ago, would be cut by Scenario 1 of I-1366. I-900 stipulated that a percentage of state sales tax revenue be dedicated to funding performance audits. Ironically, money for conducting those audits is now at risk along with the other public services that the sales tax funds.

“Tim Eyman has never been concerned with the harmful, messy consequences of his initiatives,” Villeneuve noted. “In his rush to imitate the militant tactics of Ted Cruz and U.S. House Republicans, he thoughtlessly put funding for his own initiative from ten years ago in jeopardy along with funding for education, public safety assistance to local governments, and countless other vital public services.”

“As the old adage goes, Any fool can burn down a barn, but it takes a real carpenter to build one. Tim Eyman has demonstrated he knows how to start fires, but in the span of fifteen years, he has not helped put any out, nor has he contributed to the building of a better Washington. I-1366 represents a new low for his initiative factory.”

Washingtonians have decisively rejected some pretty bad Tim Eyman initiatives in the past, but only when the case to vote no has been effectively made by people and organizations that do care about building a better Washington.

That’s why, since February, the team at NPI has been working to organize and empower Washingtonians from across the political spectrum to fight I-1366.

“We encourage everyone who wants to uphold our Constitution, protect our common wealth, and defend Washington’s values to step up and help us kick the effort to beat I-1366 into high gear,” said Villeneuve. “There’s a lot of work that needs doing between now and when ballots drop. We urge people to get involved in this campaign.”

The growing coalition against I-1366 includes the Washington Association of School Principals, League of Women Voters of Washington, the League of Education Voters, Statewide Poverty Action Network, Washington Environmental Council, Washington State Democratic Party, and many more. An evolving list of organizations opposed to I-1366 is available on the NO on I-1366 website.

Posted in From the Campaign Trail, Rethinking and Reframing, Statements & Advisories, Threat Analysis | Tagged

Facts about I-1366 that Tim Eyman didn’t bother to mention

This morning, Tim Eyman sent an email to the press, taking another opportunity to crow about getting signatures submitted for I-1366 and ostensibly provide information pertaining to the initiative. Here are some very important facts he didn’t bother to share:

  • Initiatives cannot be used to change the state Constitution: Eyman has falsely been calling I-1366 a constitutional amendment initiative. There is no such thing. The initiative power can only be used to create, modify, or repeal statutes. Any change to the Constitution must originate in the Legislature (Article XXIII).
  • Loss to the state treasury starting in April 2016 if the Legislature doesn’t capitulate to Eyman’s demand to sabotage Article II, Section 22 (which requires majority vote to pass all bills): About $1 billion per year
  • The essential public services that would be most harmed by a sudden, massive cut in sales tax revenue: Washington’s public K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities
  • Lowest percentage of the Legislature that could block any change to the tax code they didn’t like under Tim Eyman’s desired rules: 12% (seventeen senators out of one hundred and forty-seven total legislators)
  • Most recent addition to the rapidly-growing NO on I-1366 Coalition roster: The Washington Council of Fire Fighters (added today!)
  • Reported cost of Eyman’s I-1366 signature drive so far: $1 million, exactly (source: Public Disclosure Commission data, last updated June 9th)
    • Cost of petitioner labor: Estimated to be $462,625 (assuming average signature cost of $1.17 multiplied by 337,954 submitted signatures, see this post for more details on the methodology)
    • Cost of coordinators: Estimated at $168,977 (assuming an override of fifty cents per signature for 337,954 signatures)
    • That leaves hundreds of thousands of dollars unaccounted for – and Eyman was recently raising funds to make another $100,000 payment for signature gathering. This money isn’t needed to compensate petitioners or coordinators – so where’s it going?
  • Blast from the past: Our Founding Fathers were strongly for majority rule, and we should be listening to them — not Tim Eyman. Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist No. 22:

    If a pertinacious minority can control the opinion of a majority, respecting the best mode of conducting it, the majority, in order that something may be done, must conform to the views of the minority; and thus the sense of the smaller number will overrule that of the greater, and give a tone to the national proceedings. Hence, tedious delays; continual negotiation and intrigue; contemptible compromises of the public good.

More information about the NO on I-1366 coalition is available here.

Posted in Eye on Money: Developments, From the Campaign Trail, Statements & Advisories | Tagged

NO on I-1366 Committee forms; will respond to Tim Eyman’s signature turn-in tomorrow

Efforts to build a broad coalition to stop Tim Eyman’s I-1366 received a major boost today with NPI and Permanent Defense founder Andrew Villeneuve’s announcement of the formation of a statewide campaign committee to oppose the initiative.

I-1366 would slash the state sales tax by about $1 billion a year in April of 2016 if the Legislature fails by that time to adopt a constitutional amendment permanently sabotaging the Constitution’s requirement that bills receive a majority vote.

“Over the last few months, the team at NPI has worked to assemble a broad coalition to stand up for Washington’s kids against the bad politics of blackmail,” said Villeneuve. “Today, we and our partners are shifting our efforts into higher gear with the formation of NO on Tim Eyman’s I-1366, a statewide campaign committee that will ensure our growing coalition is well served by a capable, bipartisan leadership team.”

NO on Tim Eyman’s I-1366 has five initial officers: Villeneuve, former Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed, former Democratic State Senator Randy Gordon, former Democratic State Representative Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney, and NW Media Allies owner Sue Evans.

Microsoft alum and veteran activist Matt Loschen serves as the committee’s treasurer.

The committee’s C1-PC has been submitted to the Public Disclosure Commission and will soon be available online following processing of the accompanying signature card.

“We are committed to building a campaign that honors and defends the values that Washington was founded upon,” said Villeneuve. “Everyone who believes in upholding majority rule and protecting our state from the destructive politics of hostage taking will be welcome to join our cause, no matter what party they belong to, and no matter what underlying values system they subscribe to.”

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to work with Matt, Sue, Sam, Phyllis, and Randy on this effort. And I want to thank the many organizations that have already pledged to help defeat I-1366, from the League of Women Voters of Washington and the Statewide Poverty Action Network to the Washington Environmental Council and the Washington State Democratic Party.”

“We are still in the beginning stages of this organizing effort, and we expect to have an even longer roster as we get closer to autumn.”

Tim Eyman has a 3 PM appointment to turn in signatures tomorrow (Thursday), July 2nd, 2015 with the Secretary of State. Following Eyman’s submission of signatures, the committee will outline why it is imperative that voters reject I-1366 and give the media an opportunity to learn more about the coalition’s next steps.

Posted in From the Campaign Trail, Statements & Advisories, Threat Analysis | Tagged

Police report, eyewitness testimony documents harassment of citizens by Eyman petitioners

With Tim Eyman and his associates said to be winding down the signature drive for I-1366, Eyman’s most destructive initiative yet, NPI’s Permanent Defense has been reviewing anecdotes submitted by citizens and activists regarding their experiences with petitioners during the I-1366 signature drive.

One incident in particular drew our attention, because it illustrates that there have been and continue to be occasions where petitioners have needlessly instigated conflict with citizens by behaving inappropriately.

During the week of April 19th-25th, two petitioners most likely on the payroll of Tim Eyman and his associates selected a Trader Joe’s in Kirkland, Washington, to solicit in front of. Their objective was to intercept shoppers entering and exiting the store and get them to sign Tim Eyman’s I-1366.

Eyewitness Bob Osrowske, a resident of Kirkland who contacted NPI to report his experiences, first saw the petitioners on the afternoon of April 20th, as he was going into Trader Joe’s, around 3:20 PM. He described the older of the pair, later identified by the Kirkland Police as Robert A. Blaska, as “quite aggressive”.

During this initial encounter, Osrowske asked if I-1366 was sponsored by Tim Eyman; he recollected the younger petitioner, later identified by police as Devin M. Fox, responding by asking, “Who’s Tim Eyman?” and claiming it was merely “a conservative initiative”.

Osrowske, who correctly suspected that I-1366 is in fact a Tim Eyman initiative, declined to sign the petition and continued into the store.

Two days later, on Wednesday, April 22nd, Osrowske was again on his way into Trader Joe’s to get groceries, and witnessed Blaska and Fox intercepting shoppers in front of the store for a second time.

“They were the worst-behaved signature gatherers I’ve encountered so far,” Osrowske told NPI. “They’d get in a person’s face to get a signature, or challenge you if you had a different opinion. Courtesy was not a part of their vocabulary.”

When Osrowske came out of the store, at about 1:20 PM, Officers Karp and Miller of the Kirkland Police Department had arrived to confront Blaska and Fox after receiving a 911 call at 12:38 PM from another individual.

The police report obtained by NPI from the City of Kirkland states that the call was precipitated by the presence of “harassing solicitors outside Trader Joe’s” who were “trying to get signatures for lowering taxes”. The subjects were described by the complainant as “rude and forceful”, with one being more aggressive than the other.

Officer Karp’s narrative describes what happened next:

Robert A. Blaska (born 82) refused to move his petition table from obscuring the exit and wheelchair ramp at Trader Joe’s. We also had several complaints of him cursing at patrons. He was trespassed for one year and his partner Devin M. Fox (born 92) remained.

The incident was subsequently logged by the Kirkland Police Department as #2015-00016270.

Unfortunately, the kind of harassment that Bob Osrowske and other Trader Joe’s shoppers had to put up with that week last April is not uncommon.

Grocers and other retailers have documented many instances where petitioners have blocked store entrances and gotten in the faces of patrons. In some of these instances, the police have been summoned, as they were in Kirkland on April 22nd, because the petitioners refused to behave respectfully.

A panel organized by the Washington Food Industry Association and the Northwest Grocery Association spoke to the Senate Government Operations & Security Committee about problem petitioners at a now-infamous hearing on SB 5375 on February 5th, which was abruptly ended by committee chair Pam Roach following an exchange between vice chair Don Benton and ranking member Marko Liias.

Prior to the committee’s sudden adjournment, Republican and Democratic members of the committee spoke to some of their own experiences with aggressive petitioners during a Q&A with the panel. (The hearing can be watched on demand via TVW).

“Tim Eyman has repeatedly portrayed petitioners as the victims of harassment, but as this incident and others show, there have been many times when petitioners were the perpetrators and citizens the victims,” said NPI founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve.

“Unfortunately, in Washington, as in many other states, it is legal to pay petitioners by the signature, which means petitioners have an incentive to be aggressive. If they can corner people and get them to sign, they make more money. Plenty of people will sign a petition just to get a confrontational signature gatherer to quit bothering them.”

“It’s definitely time for our state’s executive and legislative branches to act to clean up Washington’s underground petitioning industry. People who are being paid to gather signatures aren’t merely exercising their First Amendment rights — they’re doing a job. Their employers should be following all of our state’s worker protection laws, and ensuring they get training so that they understand how to behave appropriately when they are out collecting.”

Posted in Rethinking and Reframing, Statements & Advisories | Tagged

Larry Haler’s House Bill 2255 lives on as an initiative to the people

In response to Republican State Representative Larry Haler’s disappointing decision to withdraw House Bill 2255, legislation that sought to replace Tim Eyman’s I-747 with a more sensible property tax policy, NPI founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve today introduced the bill as an initiative to the people to ensure that the proposal will live on and be easily accessible for public discussion and comment.

“We wish Larry Haler had stood behind his bill,” said Villeneuve. “Since he’s chosen to pull it and neither of his Democratic cosponsors wanted to take it over, it’s been erased from the Legislature’s website – as if it never existed. To ensure that it remains accessible, NPI has transformed it into an initiative to the people. The only change we’ve made is to add an intent section. Otherwise, we’ve left the bill as it was.”

Anyone doing a bill-specific search for HB 2255 now sees an error when putting in that number, due to the bill having been withdrawn. A broader search of the Legislature’s website will turn up information pertaining to bills with the same number from other years. The bill’s text stayed up leg.wa.gov for a while longer, but now it’s gone, too.

This morning, Tim Eyman sent out an email to his followers and the media crowing about the bill’s demise and taking credit for having intimidated Haler into withdrawing the bill. Eyman, of course, stands to benefit if Washington State’s tax code remains broken and regressive: it ensures that there will be grist for future initiatives from his mill.

But what’s good for Tim Eyman isn’t good for Washington State.

“We are long overdue for meaningful action to fix our broken tax code,” Villeneuve said. “If Republicans who are in a position of responsibility wish to be part of the solution instead of being part of the problem, then they need to declare their independence from Tim Eyman and demonstrate a willingness to work with Democrats on reform.”

“We were encouraged when Larry Haler introduced HB 2255, and just as equally disappointed when he folded under pressure and pulled it. He could have set a good example for his party and done the people of Washington an important service by standing up to Tim Eyman. Eyman may not want to admit it, but Washington’s essential public services – from schools to mental health services to parks to ferries – are woefully underfunded and reliant on the nation’s most regressive tax system for the little money they are getting.”

“How many more times is the Legislature going to take the lowest road and pass a budget that relies on accounting gimmicks, fund transfers, and other trickery to paper over the worsening structural problems we’ve got?” Villeneuve asked.

“And for how much longer are county and city leaders supposed to scrape by under I-747, the Death-By-A-Thousand-Cuts Initiative? Washington’s public services are one of its greatest assets, and we should be protecting and strengthening them… not allowing them to waste away under an ill-conceived Tim Eyman initiative.”

The transformed text of House Bill 2255 is available from the Secretary of State’s website. The just-filed initiative will eventually receive a ballot number, title, and summary, once the text is finalized.

Posted in Legislation & Testimony, Rethinking and Reframing, Statements & Advisories | Tagged

Eyman’s I-1366 aims to lock in Washington’s broken tax code… permanently

With Washington State’s regular legislative session now disappearing into the rearview mirror, initiative promoter Tim Eyman has once again turned his attention to aggressively hawking his latest and most destructive scheme yet: Initiative 1366, which he is attempting to qualify to the November ballot with the help of Vancouver developer Clyde Holland’s deep pockets.

I-1366 would wipe out around $1 billion a year in funding for our schools, universities, and other vital public services unless, by next April, the Washington State Legislature overturns the Supreme Court’s League of Education Voters decision by passing a constitutional amendment to require a two-thirds vote to raise revenue. It’s Ted Cruz-style blackmail.

Either outcome of I-1366 would be disastrous for Washington State.

“I-1366 is a mean-spirited, incredibly destructive initiative that represents an all-out attack on the values that Washington was founded on,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder Andrew Villeneuve.

“Eyman’s aim is to force lawmakers to permanently sabotage Article II, Section 22 of our state Constitution, to transfer power over key budgeting decisions from the many to the few. Were that to happen, our state’s broken tax code – which is ranked as the nation’s most regressive – would be permanently locked into place. The fate of any tax reform proposal could be perpetually dictated by just one faction of one political party on one side of the Dome, resulting in gridlock and paralysis.”

“And if lawmakers refuse to do as Eyman demands, then his initiative would blow a huge hole in the state’s operating budget, wiping out around $1 billion a year in funding for vital public services like our schools,” Villeneuve added.

“School funding in Washington State is already so low that lawmakers are under a court order to raise it. Eyman’s I-1366 would destroy all the progress that’s been made to date towards complying with McCleary, and then do much more damage on top of that. I-1366 is unconscionable as well as unconstitutional.”

Counting $250,000 in loans he has taken out against his home, Eyman has raised nearly $900,000 for I-1366 to date, according to reports filed with the PDC.

A third of that sum has been provided by Clyde Holland ($300,000). Another $100,000 was donated by longtime Eyman patron Kemper Freeman Jr. of Bellevue, who owns the Bellevue Collection (Bellevue Square, Bellevue Place, Lincoln Square) and ranks behind only Michael Dunmire as Eyman’s top benefactor.

Petitioners are out collecting signatures for I-1366 now. Reports submitted by activists to NPI’s Permanent Defense following their encounters with petitioners document that petitioners – like Eyman – are falsely advertising I-1366 as a revote on the two-thirds vote requirement struck down by the Supreme Court in League of Education Voters (2013).

I-1366 is really a hostage-taking scheme conceived by Eyman to force Democratic lawmakers to vote to overturn the LEV decision.

Eyman needs their cooperation because, contrary to what he says in his emails and on his petitions, he doesn’t have the power to put a constitutional amendment before the voters. Only the Legislature has that power.

Unlike in other states, Washington’s Constitution cannot be amended by ballot initiative, only by a properly-submitted constitutional amendment. The Constitution explicitly states that all amendments must originate in the Legislature. And ironically, before they can be placed on the ballot for consideration by the people, they must receive a two-thirds vote of each house to pass.

Eyman doesn’t have the votes, which is why he’s resorting to blackmail. Getting two-thirds of the Legislature to agree on anything, even small matters, is often difficult to do, particularly in the polarized times we live in.

Eyman knows that I-1366 would fail if he was truthful about his intentions, which is why he is falsely advertising it, as he did with I-1366’s predecessor I-1325 last year.

Eyman’s emails, whether about I-1366 or another subject, are frequently chock full of misinformation and fudged numbers, while lacking in context.

Reporters, editors, producers, and editorial writers are advised to avoid using any Eyman email to source information for a story, column, or editorial.

A debunked version of the email that Eyman sent Monday is available from Permanent Defense’s website.

Posted in Rethinking and Reframing, Statements & Advisories, Threat Analysis | Tagged

Anatomy of a Tim Eyman email: Sound bites based on lies, fudged numbers, and missing context

Yesterday morning, Tim Eyman sent out another one of his misinformation-laden missives, ending, as always, with an exhortation to send money to his campaign coffers. On occasion, we fisk and debunk Eyman’s emails to demonstrate that Eyman is not a reputable or trustworthy source of information.

We’re going to do that again today.

This post will examine what is in Eyman’s email (sound bites based on lies, fudged numbers) and what is not (missing context).

Let’s get started.

Sound bites based on lies

EYMAN ARGUMENT: “The 2/3 policy is a shield that protects everyone. United we stand, divided we fall.”

REALITY: Requiring a two-thirds vote to raise revenue is undemocratic, goes against the values that our state and country were founded on, and results in the few having power over the many, as this pictogram explains:

Democracy requires that decisions be reached by majority vote

Democracy requires that decisions be reached by majority vote

Washington has repeatedly been ranked as having the nation’s most regressive tax system. It’s regressive because those with the least pay the most in taxes as a percentage of their income, while those with the most pay the least. That’s backwards.

The effect of requiring a two-thirds vote to raise or recover revenue for the state treasury is to lock this regressive system into place, removing the legislative process as an avenue for tax reform. That’s the only thing Eyman’s initiatives actually protect. We all ultimately lose – not win – when majority rule is taken away.

Past initiatives to sabotage majority rule, particularly I-1053 and I-1185, were financed by big oil companies, Wall Street banks, and trade groups that have a vested interest in keeping Washington’s broken, outdated, and regressive tax system the way it is.

EYMAN ARGUMENT: “The 2/3 vote requirement for higher taxes protects all of us — individuals and businesses — from Olympia’s insatiable tax appetite.”

REALITY: Olympia is a city, not another name for the Washington State Legislature.

The people of Washington do not need to be protected from their own representatives. Washington is a democracy; the people are in charge and have the power to hire and fire all one hundred forty-seven members of the Legislature, as well as the governor, the executive department, and the justices of the Supreme Court, at regularly-held elections and special elections in case of a vacancy.

Contrary to what Eyman claims, the Legislature rarely votes to raise taxes, even when the Constitution’s Article II, Section 22 (which requires a majority vote for passage of bills) has been followed. Most bills introduced in the House or Senate to raise or recover revenue for the state treasury never become law.

The Legislature’s failure to fix our broken, outdated tax system is negatively impacting our economy and our way of life. Washington currently ranks thirty-fifth in the nation when our state and local taxes are compared to those of other states. That means a majority of states in the Union are investing more than we are in their public services.

All Washington households and businesses rely on our state’s public services – schools, ports, libraries, parks, police, fire, paramedics, hospitals, universities, roads, transit – every day of every year. Our public services are the foundation of our economy, and it is important that we strengthen them, not underfund them.

Taxation is the means by which we pool our resources to get things done. There is wide agreement in principle that taxes should be fairly levied, accurately collected, properly deposited, and responsibly spent, which is why the most important duty of our elected representatives is to write and pass a budget. Budgeting decisions should be made democratically, reflecting the will of the people of Washington. Requiring a two-thirds vote for some budgeting decisions but not others is undemocratic and violates the values our state was founded on.

EYMAN ARGUMENT: “It is critical we get the 2/3-For-Taxes Constitutional Amendment Initiative on the ballot… Voters deserve the chance to put the 2/3 protection in our state Constitution.”

REALITY: There is no such thing as a constitutional amendment initiative – it’s a fiction created by Eyman. In Washington State, all constitutional amendments must originate in the Legislature. The Constitution cannot be amended by initiative.

I-1366 would not change the Washington State Constitution if enacted. What it actually does is cut the state sales tax from 6.5% to 5.5%, resulting in the loss of a billion dollars a year from the state treasury, if the Legislature does not adopt a constitutional amendment to overturn the League of Education Voters decision.

Fudged numbers

Eyman’s email touting his successes consists of numbers that are blatantly inaccurate and inconsistently rounded.

EYMAN CLAIM: ” In 2012, during that high turnout presidential year, our 2/3 initiative passed with 2/3 approval: 1.9 million voters.”

REALITY: Had I-1185 been required to pass by its own two-thirds standard, it would have failed. Two-thirds is equivalent to 66.67%; I-1185 did not receive that level of support. See the actual numbers on the Secretary of State’s website.

EYMAN CLAIM: “In 1999 (and ever since), 56% of voters approved lower car tabs but everyone’s car tabs were reduced, even the 44% who voted no.”

REALITY: Here Eyman is referring to I-695. It received a 56.16% yes vote/43.84% no vote in a local election year in which voter turnout was 57%. King County, the state’s largest, voted the initiative down, as did San Juan and Whatcom counties. Following the election, I-695 was struck down as unconstitutional by the Washington State Supreme Court, and later reinstated by the Legislature.

EYMAN CLAIM: “In 2001 (and ever since), 58% of voters approved a 1% limit on property tax levy increases but everyone’s property taxes were limited, even the 42% who voted no.”

REALITY: Here Eyman is referring to I-747. It actually received a 57.55% yes vote/42.44% no vote in a local election year in which voter turnout was 44.51%. King County, the state’s largest, voted the initiative down, as did Whitman County in eastern Washington. Several years after the election, I-747 was struck down as unconstitutional by the Washington State Supreme Court, and reinstated shortly afterwards by the Legislature.

EYMAN CLAIM: “In 2007, 2010, and 2012, huge majorities of voters approved the 2/3 protection but everyone was protected afterwards, even those who voted no.”

REALITY: Eyman’s I-960, the 2007 initiative, did not get a “huge majority”. It passed in a local election year with 51.24% of the vote; 48.76% voted no. And it’s worth noting that voter turnout in the 2007 general election was just 50.04%. Barely half of the state’s registered voters participated in the election.

It is fair to say that large majorities voted for I-1053 in 2010 and I-1185 in 2012. However, those initiatives were not met with the kind of early, organized opposition they should have faced. Only $98,016.26 was spent against I-1185 in 2012, and of the $1,638,970.66 spent against I-1053 in 2010, the vast majority of contributions and expenditures (90%+) came at the end of the campaign, in October, when voting had begun and when it was getting late to influence the outcome.

Missing context

Eyman’s email fails to mention any of his failures and thus does not accurately present his record. Voters have rejected a number of Eyman schemes to gut funding for public services, mess with transportation policy, and allow electronic slot machines outside of tribal reservations. Eyman’s defeats at the ballot include the following:

  • I-745 in 2000
  • I-892 in 2004
  • I-985 in 2008
  • I-1033 in 2009
  • I-1125 in 2011
  • I-517 in 2013

Additionally, most of the Eyman initiatives that have been passed by voters have been struck down by the Supreme Court in whole or in part as unconstitutional, including I-695 and I-747 (previously mentioned).

For more details, see Tim Eyman’s Failure Chart.

Posted in Rethinking and Reframing | Tagged

Washington State Democratic Party joins coalition opposing Tim Eyman’s I-1366

Some very good news to share: This weekend in Pasco, the Washington State Democratic Party took a position strongly opposing Tim Eyman’s I-1366, following in the footsteps of the King County Democrats and several local Democratic organizations. A resolution approved by the Washington State Democratic Central Committee (WSDCC) – based on Permanent Defense’s model resolution opposing I-1366 – urges Washingtonians to refrain from signing I-1366 and to emphatically vote NO in the event I-1366 qualifies for the ballot.

NPI thanks the Washington State Democratic Party for taking an early position opposing I-1366 and setting a good example for other organizations to follow.

“I-1366 is the most destructive, mean-spirited initiative ever proposed by Tim Eyman,” said NPI founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve. “I-1366 doesn’t just warrant defeat if it makes the ballot: it deserves to be resoundingly crushed. To give I-1366 the burial it deserves, we’re building an unprecedented, broad, and diverse coalition to fight it. The Washington State Democratic Party was a dependable partner in the incredibly successful campaign against I-517 in 2013, and we’re very pleased to once again have the party with us in this effort.”

“The stakes simply couldn’t be higher. Tim Eyman is trying to blackmail lawmakers into gutting our state’s cherished tradition of majority rule by taking our schools and universities as hostages. Our schools are already underfunded, but Eyman wants to deprive them of billions more if the Legislature doesn’t do as he demands.”

“Eyman may think he’s being clever by ripping a page right out of Ted Cruz’s playbook. But that’s the same playbook that brought us the costly, stupid, and irresponsible 2013 federal government shutdown, which even many Republicans admit was disastrous. We have a moral and constitutional obligation to support our children and ensure that every young person gets a good public education. Those are Washington values that date back to statehood. In 2015, we will stand strong in defense of those values with our campaign against I-1366.”

Posted in Endorsements, From the Campaign Trail |
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