NPI thanks Supreme Court for sustaining I-976 injunction

Election PostmortemIn the Courts

This afternoon, the Washington State Supreme Court upheld King County Superior Court Judge Marshall Ferguson’s ruling that Tim Eyman’s I-976 shall be barred from being implemented until its constitutionality (or lack thereof) can be determined.

I-976 is Eyman’s most recent measure, which seeks to wipe out billions of dollars in bipartisan, voter-approved transportation investments.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office had filed an emergency appeal seeking to have the injunction overturned. The Supreme Court has denied that motion.

Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve thanked the Supreme Court for sustaining the injunction.

“Thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision today, Tim Eyman’s scheme to destroy multimodal transportation infrastructure in the State of Washington will not go into effect on December 5th,” said Villeneuve.

“Instead, we Washingtonians will continue to pool our resources to ensure that we can build and maintain the roads, railways, bus routes, sidewalks, and bike paths that our communities need. Revenue from vehicle fees Eyman wants to repeal will either be held in escrow pending the Supreme Court’s final verdict on I-976, or provided to local governments like the City of Seattle and King County, which are plaintiffs in this case.”

In recent days, Tim Eyman has repeatedly issued exhortations calling upon Washingtonians to join him in breaking the law and not paying their vehicle fees.

These exhortations are irresponsible and do not deserve to be given airtime, ink, or pixels.

“As citizens, we have a mutual responsibility to each other to pay our dues to our state and country,” said Villeneuve. “It is patriotic to be a taxpayer and pay one’s dues.”

“If there were no taxes, there would be no public services, and if there were no public services, there would be no Washington State and no United States of America. It is what we do together as a people for each other that makes us strong. None of us can afford to repair a bridge or run a bus route with a vehicle fee refund. But together, we can empower our neighbors like Michael Rogers, a plaintiff in the I-976 case, to get where they want to go, even if they cannot drive or do not wish to drive.”

“Tim Eyman has framed I-976 as being about car tabs, but in reality, I-976 is an assault on freedom of mobility, and should be characterized as such in stories about the measure. As Eyman has admitted when speaking to friendly audiences, his objective with I-976 is to wipe out funding for transportation modes other than auto travel, because he doesn’t believe in them. Gas taxes have also been increased in recent years, but Eyman didn’t target those with I-976, because gas tax revenues are required by the Constitution to be used for highway purposes… the one transportation mode that Eyman supports.”

“‘Thirty dollar tabs’ is a marketing slogan… a dishonest slogan. As Eyman has admitted, even if I-976 goes into effect, no one in Washington will pay thirty dollars to renew their vehicle’s registration, because the initiative doesn’t actually cap fees at thirty dollars. That’s not a problem for Eyman, because the truth is irrelevant to him. As long as multimodal transportation infrastructure gets defunded, Eyman will have achieved his aim.”

“Right now, that’s not happening due to the injunction against I-976. Today’s decision may be bad news for Eyman, but it’s good news for Washington communities.”


NPI hails preliminary injunction against Tim Eyman’s I-976

Election PostmortemIn the Courts

This morning, King County Superior Court Judge Marshall Ferguson ruled that Tim Eyman’s I-976 shall be barred from being implemented until its constitutionality (or lack thereof) can be determined.

I-976 is Eyman’s most recent measure, which seeks to wipe out billions of dollars in bipartisan, voter-approved transportation investments.

“Plaintiffs have a well-grounded fear of immediate invasion of the rights afforded by the Washington Constitution due to implementation of I-976. Implementation on December 5, 2019 of an unconstitutionally misleading statewide initiative, even if approved by a majority of voters, would be an invasion per se of Plaintiffs’ rights under the Washington Constitution,” Judge Ferguson wrote in his decision.

“Put simply, enforcement of what is likely an unconstitutional law would invade Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.”

Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, who helped organize the campaign against I-976, praised the decision.

“Judge Marshall Ferguson’s order staying Tim Eyman’s I-976 is great news for Washington State,” said Villeneuve. “While this will not be the final word from our courts on I-976, it is encouraging that Judge Ferguson found that the plaintiffs were likely to prevail in their arguments against I-976.”

“I-976 is riddled with constitutional defects and was presented to voters for their consideration with a dishonest ballot title, which is unacceptable.

“No law, whether originating in the Legislature as a bill or originating from the people as an initiative, may violate our plan of government.”

“This is a bedrock principle of our democracy. After twenty years of sponsoring initiatives, you might think Tim Eyman would have learned by now how to write a constitutional initiative, but the truth is that he doesn’t seem to care whether his measures withstand constitutional scrutiny or not.”

“He certainly pretends to care, and he expresses anger when his initiatives are challenged. But someone who really did care wouldn’t throw money at an initiative until they were sure that they had dotted all of their i’s and crossed all of their t’s. Tim Eyman didn’t. Instead, he overreached, like has has so many times in the past.”

“Judge Ferguson has a duty and an obligation to defend the Constitution of Washington State and today he honored that obligation by staying I-976. As a result, our communities will not begin to suffer the grave harms of I-976’s implementation next week.”

“Our team at NPI is incredibly grateful to Judge Ferguson for acting swiftly and thoughtfully to protect our Constitution and our commonwealth from the threat of I-976. We will certainly be giving thanks today and tomorrow for the good sense, judgment, and wisdom that he has shown in reaching this decision.”

NPI on Eyman’s purported gubernatorial candidacy: Let’s see that paperwork

Election Postmortem

Disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman declared today after years of shunning suggestions to run for elected office that he is a candidate for Governor of Washington State, the highest position in the land.

Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve noted that if Eyman actually intends to go through with his stated intention of becoming a candidate, he is required to file a declaration of candidacy with the Public Disclosure Commission, as well as a Personal Financial Affairs Statement, within two weeks of making an announcement or raising/spending money.

“Let’s see that paperwork,” said Villeneuve. “Tim Eyman is a liar, a thief, and a con artist. For years, he has operated as though our public disclosure laws don’t apply to him. But they do. Activists, operatives, and candidates alike are all obligated to comply with our public disclosure laws. Until Tim Eyman files his C1 and his F1, we will not regard him as a candidate. He lies so frequently and effortlessly that his utterances are devoid of meaning until followed up with action. So, again, let’s see that paperwork. Should it be filed, we will have a long, long list of questions for Candidate Tim Eyman concerning his positions on issues he normally avoids. Where does he stand on womxn’s reproductive rights? On addressing lack of funding for behavioral health? On complying with treaty obligations to our Native American tribes? On reducing pollution of our air, water, and soil? On upholding collective bargaining rights? On abolishing the death penalty?”

“Tim Eyman may regard a candidacy as another scheme for separating fools from their money, but he will find that people will want to know where he stands on the issues… all of them… as a candidate for Washington State’s top job.”

Eyman would not be the first “initiative activist” in the Pacific Northwest to try running for high office if he proceeds with his gubernatorial gambit.

In 1998, Tim Eyman’s Oregon counterpart Bill Sizemore managed to secure the Republican Party’s nomination for Governor of Oregon and went on to lose in a landslide, garnering only 30% of the vote.

Public opinion research dating back to 2012 has consistently shown that a majority of Washingtonians who know of Tim Eyman have a negative opinion of him.

Eyman did his reputation no favors when he inexplicably decided to steal a chair from Office Depot earlier this year.

Republicans previously tried to break the Democratic Party’s decades-long gubernatorial winning streak with Ellen Craswell, John Carlson, Dino Rossi, Rob McKenna, and Bill Bryant. None were successful. The last candidate to be elected Governor of Washington who was not a Democrat was John Spellman in 1980.

I-776 and I-976 are very different, contrary to what Tim Eyman claims

In the Courts

Tim Eyman’s Election Night euphoria has predictably dissolved into whining and complaining over the reality that local governments aren’t going to allow his incredibly destructive I-976 to take effect next month without a constitutional challenge. With the court case now underway, Eyman is anxiously trying to spin I-976 as constitutional.

Eyman argues that since I-776 was partially upheld by the Supreme Court in Pierce County v. State in 2003, I-976 must be constitutional, too.

(I-776 was Eyman’s 2002 initiative that was aimed at slashing vehicle fees. It narrowly passed.)

But this is yet another bogus Eyman argument. It comes from someone with a long track record of losing in the courts.

Every Tim Eyman initiative since 1999 that has gotten past the voters has been challenged successfully on constitutional grounds except for I-900 (2005).

The list of challenged Eyman initiatives is as follows:

If you compare I-776 to I-976, you can see they are very different. I-976 targets fees that didn’t even exist around the turn of the century.

A total of seventeen years elapsed between voters’ consideration of I-776 and I-976.

In that time, the Legislature modified a significant number of RCWs pertaining to transportation funding.

For example, working together with three different governors, the Legislature passed:

  • the nickel transportation package (in 2003);
  • the 2005 Transportation package (in 2005);
  • legislation giving local governments more revenue authority for transportation (in 2020);
  • the Connecting Washington transportation package (in 2015).

The 2005 package authorized vehicle weight fees as a funding source for multimodal transportation projects at the state level, while the 2015 package gave Sound Transit the authority to seek voter approval for a higher motor vehicle excise tax and empowered transportation benefit districts to raise more money from vehicle fees.

In 2015, the Legislature also authorized counties and cities to assume transportation benefit districts; see Chapter 36.74 RCW.

We have created an online comparison between I-776 and I-976 using the original text of each measure as provided by the Secretary of State’s website.

Take a look and examine the source texts.

The plaintiffs in Garfield County et al v. State allege that I-976 has constitutional defects. We agree. Tim Eyman can claim we’re wrong till he’s red in the face, but history is not on his side. The courts will decide who’s right, not Eyman or his new attorney Richard Sanders, who voters decided to remove from the Supreme Court several years ago.

It is essential to remember that the schemes that Eyman has come up with have consistently been found to be unconstitutional.

If Eyman were interested in writing measures that did not have constitutional defects, he would take much greater care when drafting measures like I-976. But he doesn’t.

And others active in right wing politics in Washington State have noticed.

“We feel that we need to have a product that has the best chance of surviving the inevitable court challenge that will follow,” said “Liberty State” organizers Mike McKee and Cary Condotta in a July 2019 message to their fans explaining why their group was choosing not to continue working with Tim Eyman. (For background, see this post.)

For Eyman, there is a big upside to seeing one of his measures get struck down in court: he can go back to his followers and argue that he needs more money for another initiative that does the same thing, or a similar thing. Eyman profits regardless of whether his measures are successful. He knows how to run a good scam.

But Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office is working tirelessly to hold him accountable for violating our public disclosure laws. That could ruin Eyman’s future plans to continue launching attacks on Washington’s communities. Is it any wonder, then, that Eyman furiously denounces the Attorney General as “Fascist Fergie”?

NPI applauds legal challenge to Tim Eyman’s I-976

In the Courts

Today, a coalition of local governments plus the Amalgamated Transit Union and a resident of Thurston County jointly filed suit in King County Superior Court alleging that Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976 is unconstitutional on multiple grounds. The plaintiffs seek an injunction barring I-976 from being implemented following the certification of the November 2019 general election and an order declaring I-976 unconstitutional.

Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve welcomed the filing of the legal challenge and wished the plaintiffs well.

“The fight against I-976 continues in a different arena with the filing of this necessary, timely legal challenge,” said Villeneuve.

“Tim Eyman intended for Initiative 976 to be a wrecking ball aimed at our multimodal transportation investments, which he ideologically opposes. If I-976 is ever implemented, that is certainly what it would be. But there’s a good chance it will never go into effect, because the measure itself is a blazing dumpster fire.”

“Like previous Eyman initiatives, I-976 is loaded with constitutional defects. For instance, it violates the single subject rule as well as the subject in title rule. The NPI team agrees with the plaintiffs that I-976 simply cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny. The courts should protect our plan of government and toss I-976 in the scrap heap of Washington State electoral history where it belongs. Then, our Legislature should promptly act to address the concerns that many Washingtonians have about our reliance on a needlessly complicated, multi-layered system of vehicle fees to fund the essential transportation improvements our communities need.”

“The Legislature must also make an initiative reform a top priority. Ridiculous abuses that open the door to deception, like ballot title shopping, need to be ended. A more robust process adopted for developing ballot titles that seeks and utilizes community input must be instituted as well. The title is the only language voters see on their ballots, so its content is of vital importance.”

“It’s irresponsible and immoral to ask voters to decide the fate of a proposed law using dishonest, poorly phrased, one-sided language. If voters are to pass an informed judgment on an initiative, the question they are asked must accurately represent what is being proposed and summarize the potential impacts. That was not the case with I-976. Loaded questions will always yield loaded answers.”

A few thoughts on the November 5th, 2019 initial election results

Election Postmortem

Initial results in the November 2019 general election suggest that the outcome of many races, including the two statewide initiatives, will probably be decided by late ballots. Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve issued the following statement on the initial results.

“Tonight, three weeks of voting in the November 2019 general election came to an end. But this election is not over. Until all the ballots are counted and the results certified, this remains an election in progress. There are many, many ballots left to count, and it looks like many people may have voted late. So tonight is not an appropriate juncture to start drawing conclusions about everything that’s on the ballot.”

“One thing we do know: Tim Eyman’s prediction that 65% of voters in every county would back Initiative 976 was wrong. I-976 is failing in several counties and passing only modestly in others. Eyman will not achieve the result that he boasted that he would get. Regardless of the voters’ final verdict on I-976, our efforts to defend Washington’s freedom of mobility and multimodal transportation infrastructure will go on. We must survive Initiative 976. Our state’s future depends on it.”

“We are pleased to see that Gig Harbor and Duvall voters are passing their transportation levies, and pleased to see that Federal Way voters are passing the Stable Homes initiative. We’re happy the King County Medic One levy is passing with a big margin. We’re also tracking parks levies, fire levies, and school levy/bond measures around the state, and we’re seeing positive results for a significant number of those local propositions. These levies would not be passing if people weren’t willing to invest in each other to build better communities. Some of the levies are passing by enormous margins, and that’s very significant to us.”

“We’ll have more analysis of this election in the hours and days to come. Tonight, we’re grateful to have had the opportunity to work with so many people and organizations to defend the values that Washington State was founded upon. Tomorrow our important work continues.”

It’s a clean sweep! Washington newspapers are united against I-976

From the Campaign Trail

As the campaign against Tim Eyman’s incredibly destructive I-976 draws to a close, our team at the Northwest Progressive Institute is feeling grateful.

Grateful to have had the opportunity to work with so many people and organizations against this grave threat to Washington’s mobility, from the Mainstream Republicans of Washington State to All Aboard Washington to the Sierra Club’s Cascade Chapter… all organizations that answered NPI’s call to join forces against a measure that would roll back bipartisan, voter-approved transportation investments that our state needs.

Grateful to the business community and the labor movement for providing Keep Washington Rolling (the coalition against I-976) with the majority of the resources needed to wage a proper and effective NO campaign.

And grateful to all of the newspaper publishers and editorial boards that have weighed in urging a NO vote on this measure.

As of yesterday, NPI had tallied fourteen editorial boards in opposition to I-976 and zero in favor on our Editorial Scoreboard.

Special kudos goes to The Seattle Times, which has editorialized against I-976 not just once, but repeatedly… and every single editorial published on the subject has been a gem. Thank you, Seattle Times!

The editorials excerpted below against I-976 remind us how important newspapers are to our civic health and well-being.

Even in this digital media age, characterized by fragmentation, concentration of ownership, and the decay of once dependable business models, newspapers are still essential.

Newspaper op-ed pages provide a place for the issues of the day to be discussed and debated civilly, with effective moderation.

Newspapers also provide a space for deep dives written by journalists who can help people understand an issue from many angles.

What is published in a newspaper is far more likely to be accessible to a researcher decades from now than a blog post or social media screed. It is essential that we figure out as a society how to sustain the newspapers that we have left. They are just too valuable to lose.

Washington State newspapers are united against Tim Eyman’s I-976

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT EYMAN’S LATEST SCHEME TO MESS WITH OUR MOBILITY

The Seattle Times
Nothing about I-976 is a good idea, in terms of responsible governance or prudent money management. Eyman asks voters to buy a falsity that there’s some miraculous way to fund our state’s backlog of bridge, road and transit needs. Because the courts cannot end this toxic nonsense quickly enough, voters must reject I-976 themselves.

The News Tribune of Tacoma
There’s no question that reliable roads, bridges and public transit are essential to Washington’s economy and quality of life. So there’s no question that voters should reject I-976 in the November 5th election.

The Kitsap Sun
Hastily cutting out $4 billion over the next decade, which is what I-976 is estimated to do, would have a serious effect on that progress for state-managed corridors like Highways 305 and 16, but also for municipalities.

The Yakima Herald-Republic
Eyman’s measure undermines three tenets of conservative governance: local control, designating funds for specific purposes, and user fees in which those who use a service pay for it… With transportation a top-of-mind issue in the state, Initiative 976 is exactly what we don’t need.

The Tri-City Herald
If you care about safe roads and bridges, a strong Washington State Patrol, public transportation services for the elderly and disabled, and a reliable way to get goods from Eastern Washington to shipping ports in Western Washington, then you should oppose I-976.

The Stranger
Basically, this measure is the script for an asteroid-hitting-the-planet movie, except we’d be voting for this asteroid to hit us. And it would be a handout to the 1 percent, making the car tabs on a $300,000 Ferrari cost the same as those on a $3,000 Honda.

Walla Walla Union Bulletin
A dramatic cut in transportation funding statewide and locally is simply not acceptable. We urge voters to reject I-976.

The Columbian of Vancouver
Passage of I-976 would short the statewide transportation budget, including highway construction and the Washington State Patrol, by an estimated $4 billion over the next decade. In Vancouver alone, the city would lose more than half the $9 million it spends annually to carry out its street funding strategy; it also would miss out on transportation grants that require local matching funds.

The Herald of Everett
 I-976 will add to the package of regressive taxes in this state that demand more as a percentage of income from lower- and moderate-income families than from those with higher incomes, in effect a tax break for those who can afford luxury vehicles in the Puget Sound region.

The Spokesman-Review of Spokane
Washington’s vehicle registration fees provide a large portion of the funding for repairing roads and bridges as well as public transportation. Initiative 976 would slash those fees, costing state and local governments more than $4 billion over the next six years.

The Islands’ Sounder
Don’t fall for the shiny $30 tabs and the promise of “saving money” at the expense of yourself, your neighbors, your ferries and the safety of your roads. Vote no on I-976.

Lewiston Morning Tribune
As you drive on those banged up highways, your meager savings from reduced car tabs will evaporate quickly to pay for realignments, new struts or even tires. Passing I-976 may reinvigorate Eyman’s sagging political fortunes, but it’s a loser for you. Vote no.

Ritzville Adams County Journal
Ensuring that our bridges and roads are safe and that the trains and buses run on time is crucial to keeping Washington’s economy on the right track. And for one of the most export-reliant states in the country, it is critical that the goods and supplies from Washington’s farms and businesses can move as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The University of Washington Daily
The Daily Editorial Staff believes that voting no on I-976 is of the utmost importance during this election to keep improving our statewide public transportation. 

Permanent Defense goes up on Spanish language radio to oppose I-976 and support I-1000

From the Campaign Trail

As part of our final push to defeat this year’s crop of right wing ballot measures, NPI’s Permanent Defense PAC is pleased to announce the launch of two ads on Spanish language radio outlets that urge a NO vote on Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976 and an APPROVED vote on Initiative 1000, the Washington Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Act.

Although not all voters speak English or use it as their first language, very few campaigns make any effort to create materials in languages other than English.

At NPI, inclusion is one of our core values. So is practicing what we preach. That’s why we’ve created these ads. We want to make sure everybody understands the importance of voting “NO” on I-976 and “Approved” on I-1000 — even if they don’t speak English.

Here’s our I-976 ad (M Radio Live version):

If you’d prefer to read it, here’s the copy:

NW Como americanos juntos tomamos decisiones sobre nuestro futuro a través de elecciones. En ocasiones tenemos la oportunidad de votar en propuestas de leyes nuevas. Este año una propuesta de Ley llamada Iniciativa 976 amenaza nuestro futuro. Esta ley recorta el financiamiento para arreglar puentes inseguros, crear nuevas vías de tren a lugares como Federal Way, y provee servicio de transporte publico del que dependen nuestras comunidades. La Iniciativa 976 agravara la vialidad, dejándonos un tráfico paralizado y alejados de nuestra familia. Aprende más sobre los altos costos de la Iniciativa 976 en www.No976.org. Vota NO en la Iniciativa 976 antes del 5 de noviembre. Este anuncio es pagado por Permanent Defense PAC: PO Box 2921 en Redmond.

If you don’t understand Spanish, here’s an English language translation:

As Americans, we make decisions together about our future through elections. Sometimes we even get to vote on proposed new laws ourselves. This year, a proposed law called Initiative 976 threatens our future. It cuts funding to fix unsafe bridges, build new train lines to places like Federal Way, and provide bus service our communities rely on. 976 would make traffic worse, stranding us in bumper to bumper gridlock and keeping us apart from our families. Learn more about the heavy costs of 976 by going to www.no976.org. Then, vote NO on Initiative 976 by November 5th. This ad was paid for by Permanent Defense PAC: PO Box 2921, Redmond, WA 98073.

Here’s our I-1000 ad (M Radio Live version)::

If you’d prefer to read it, here’s the copy:

Como americanos juntos tomamos decisiones sobre nuestro futuro a través de elecciones. En ocaciones tenemos la oportunidad de votar en propuestas de leyes nuevas. Este año debemos decidir entre aprobar o rechazar una propuesta de ley llamada Iniciativa 1000. Esta ley permite a las agencias publicas dirigirse a las comunidades como la nuestra para darnos información de oportunidades de trabajo en gobierno y contratos gubernamentales. Si pasa la Ley 1000 estaremos mas cerca de la equidad de pago para las mujeres y ayudará a los veteranos a encontrar trabajo cuando regresen a casa a nuestro estado. Aprende más sobre la Iniciativa 1000 antes del 5 de noviembre. Este anuncio es pagado por Permanent Defense PAC: PO Box 2921 en Redmond.

If you don’t understand Spanish, here’s an English language translation:

As Americans, we make decisions together about our future through elections. Sometimes we even get to vote on proposed new laws ourselves. This year, we must decide whether to approve or reject a proposed law called Initiative 1000. 1000 allows public agencies to reach out to communities like ours to tell us about opportunities to apply for jobs and government contracts. Passage of 1000 will get us closer to equal pay for women and help veterans find jobs after they return home to our state. Learn more about 1000 helps all of us by going to www.wafairness.org. Then, vote APPROVED on Initiative 1000 by November 5th. This ad was paid for by Permanent Defense PAC: PO Box 2921, Redmond, WA 98073.

These ads will be on the air through Election Day on terrestrial and online stations.

Debunking Tim Eyman’s I-976 whoppers: Car tabs actually *do* pay for bridges and roads

From the Campaign TrailRethinking and Reframing

The last few years have been littered with setbacks and defeats for disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman. From 2016-2018, Eyman failed to qualify anything to Washington’s general election ballot despite half a dozen attempts.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office has been working tirelessly to hold Eyman accountable for his willful and blatant violations of Washington’s public disclosure laws, dealing Eyman loss after loss in court.

Eyman is counting on an electoral victory in November to revive the fortunes of his flailing initiative factory. He has declared that his Initiative 976, a measure that would gut $4.2 billion in transportation funding over the next six years, will pass overwhelmingly in all thirty-nine of Washington’s counties and even pass in Seattle, which has consistently rejected his destructive schemes for twenty years.

If we look at what Eyman has said in response to questions about I-976’s fiscal impacts, though, we can see Eyman’s not confident about winning in November. Why else would Eyman feel the need to lie about the extent of the damage that his measure would cause?

The whoppers Eyman has been telling about I-976 deserve to be called out and debunked.

In the last three weeks, perhaps out of irritation with Keep Washington Rolling’s television ads, Eyman has aggressively peddled a particularly egregious lie that can be easily demonstrated to be an utter falsehood.

EYMAN CLAIM: “Car tab taxes don’t pay for bridges or roads – gas taxes do.” (Source: Eyman’s Facebook Wall, October 6th, 2019).

Eyman also repeated this fabrication in an interview with KREM 2 News of Spokane:

Tim Eyman lies to KREM 2 News

Statement from Tim Eyman: “Gas taxes pay for highways and roads, car tab taxes do not. Not a penny of the car tab tax goes to roads — the government spends car tab taxes on non-road stuff.”

Ironically, this lie appeared onscreen during a segment entitled “Verify”. The lie was not subsequently debunked by reporter Tim Pham — though it should have been.

THE REALITY: Vehicle fees — or “car tab taxes”, in Eyman parlance — do in fact pay for bridges and roads. At the state level, many vehicle fees are deposited in accounts that benefit our roads and bridges, including the Motor Vehicle Fund. At the local level, more than sixty cities have formed what are known as transportation benefit districts to levy vehicle fees, primarily for street maintenance and road repairs.

Here’s an example of a Washington State vehicle registration renewal bill, circa 2019:

Fees and Donations
Registration License – Renewal $30.00
Vehicle Weight $25.00
Registration Filing $4.50
Registration Service Fee $8.00
License Plate Technology $0.25
Department of Licensing Service $0.50
State Parks Donation $5.00
RTA Excise Tax $67.00
Total $140.25

Notice the first line item… “Registration License — Renewal”. That thirty dollars benefits the Washington State Patrol, Washington State Ferries, and the Motor Vehicle Fund.

RCW 46.68.035 directs how the funds from that line item are to be invested:

Disposition of combined vehicle license fees.

The director shall forward all proceeds from vehicle license fees received by the director for vehicles registered under RCW 46.17.330, 46.17.350(1) (c) and (k), 46.17.355, and 46.17.400(1)(c) to the state treasurer to be distributed into accounts according to the following method:

(1) 22.36 percent must be deposited into the state patrol highway account of the motor vehicle fund;

(2) 1.375 percent must be deposited into the Puget Sound ferry operations account of the motor vehicle fund;

(3) 5.237 percent must be deposited into the transportation 2003 account (nickel account);

(4) 11.533 percent must be deposited into the transportation partnership account created in RCW 46.68.290; and

(5) The remaining proceeds must be deposited into the motor vehicle fund.

It says right there in the law that vehicle license fees (car tabs) must be deposited in accounts that provide funding for the State Patrol, Washington State Ferries, highway projects authorized by the Legislature, and the Motor Vehicle Fund.

The state’s Motor Vehicle Fund “shall be for the use of the state, and through state agencies, for the use of counties, cities, and towns for proper road, street, and highway purposes,” according to RCW46.68.070. (Emphasis is ours).

State vehicle weight fees, meanwhile, benefit the Freight Mobility Multimodal Account and the main Multimodal Account. These accounts fund all transportation modes, including our highway system as well as the state’s rail initiatives. See RCW 46.68.415.

And most cities levying vehicle fees are using them for street maintenance. Like Spokane, Sedro-Woolley, Prosser, or Vancouver.

So, again, when Tim Eyman says car tabs don’t pay for bridges and roads, he’s lying.

Why does Eyman lie so brazenly?

Because he knows that as satirist Jonathan Swift once observed, a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its boots on.

Eyman’s idol Donald Trump, the Liar-in-Chief, knows this too, and takes full advantage.

At NPI, what we do when we read an Eyman email missive, see an Eyman Facebook posting, or hear a clip of Eyman is speaking is assume that everything Eyman has said is false until it can be proven true. This is not our normal practice; we like to assume that people mean well as opposed to assuming hostile, malicious intent.

But with known con artists like Tim Eyman, it’s absolutely necessary to invert the default.

Otherwise, the con artist succeeds in their aim of conning people.

Our advice to anyone covering I-976 or any of Tim Eyman’s activities is this: Trust nothing Eyman says. Nothing. If you ask Eyman for comment out of fairness, and he lies — as he so often does — call him on it. You can say: “Mr. Eyman told us this, but it’s actually not true… here’s what we found when we followed the facts.”

If media outlets allow Eyman’s lies to go unchecked, they spread. And that’s bad for Washington’s civic health. It promotes cynicism and mistrust in government.

As taxpayers, it’s important we connect the dots between the taxes and fees we pay and the services we get in return. We should all understand the workings of our government to the best of our ability. After all, these services are ours. We pay for them.

They belong to us.

Debunking Tim Eyman’s I-976 whoppers: There is no multi-billion dollar surplus available to backfill I-976 cuts

From the Campaign TrailRethinking and Reframing

The last few years have been littered with setbacks and defeats for disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman. From 2016-2018, Eyman failed to qualify anything to Washington’s general election ballot despite half a dozen attempts.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office has been working tirelessly to hold Eyman accountable for his willful and blatant violations of Washington’s public disclosure laws, dealing Eyman loss after loss in court.

Eyman is counting on an electoral victory in November to revive the fortunes of his flailing initiative factory. He has declared that his Initiative 976, a measure that would gut $4.2 billion in transportation funding over the next six years, will pass overwhelmingly in all thirty-nine of Washington’s counties and even pass in Seattle, which has consistently rejected his destructive schemes for twenty years.

If we look at what Eyman has said in response to questions about I-976’s fiscal impacts, though, we can see Eyman’s not confident about winning in November. Why else would Eyman feel the need to lie about the extent of the damage that his measure would cause?

The whoppers Eyman has been telling about I-976 deserve to be called out and debunked.

For example, last week, when contacted for comment by television stations like Seattle’s KING5 and Spokane’s KREM in response to the Keep Washington Rolling coalition’s autumn kickoffs in Spokane and Seattle, Eyman dishonestly asserted that there is a free lunch available to people who vote yes on I-976.

EYMAN CLAIM: “With the state having a $3.5 billion net surplus and record revenues, politicians threats, lies, and scare tactics are particularly unbelievable and absurd… There is more than enough revenue to backfill any affected government program.” (Source: King County leaders: $30 car tabs would be ‘catastrophic’ for transit projects — 09/18/2019)

THE REALITY: Wrong. What’s hard to believe is that Tim Eyman is still making outrageously false statements like this when he knows he can be fact checked.

Then again, perhaps he figures if Donald Trump can get away with it, so can he.

There is no ‘net surplus’ that can be used to backfill the revenue that would be lost if I-976 were to be implemented. It simply doesn’t exist.

And the comment that Washington is seeing ‘record revenues’ is meaningless.

The Washington State of today cannot be compared to past periods using absolute dollar figures, which Tim Eyman sometimes plots onto charts and trots out in support of his incorrect arguments about ‘record’ taxation.

To draw comparisons between different time periods, economists use a metric like income or expenditures per $1,000 in personal income.

As OFM’s data shows, in the 1990s, both income and expenditures per $1,000 in personal income was higher than it is today. That means that the extent to which we are investing in public services overall has actually decreased. In other words, taxes were higher twenty-five years ago than they are today. Even if Eyman’s mythical $3.5 billion existed, it wouldn’t be enough to offset the revenue I-976 would eliminate.

The Office of Financial Management has analyzed that I-976 would eliminate $4.2 billion in funding at the state and local levels over the next six years.

The impact is even worse over ten years… Eyman’s favorite time period.

Sound Transit has analyzed that the loss of the motor vehicle excise tax revenue would blow a giant hole in its financing, jeopardizing as much as $20 billion in transit expansion funding that voters already approved.

Senior Northwest Progressive Institute boardmember Gael Tarleton, who serves as Chair of the Finance Committee in the Washington State House of Representatives, says it’s vital that Eyman’s false claims be fact checked so voters aren’t misled by his lies.

“Tim Eyman talks about budgets as if he knows what he’s talking about. He’s lying,” said Tarleton. “There is no multi-billion dollar ‘net surplus’ available for the Legislature to tap if I-976 is implemented.” She elaborated:

Presently, there are two main sources of transportation funding in our state: the fuel tax and vehicle fees, which are supplemented by tolls and ferry fares in specific corridors.”

Fuel tax proceeds can only be used for highway purposes in accordance with our state constitution. That leaves vehicle fees as the sole major funding source for multimodal projects that empower pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and motorists to get where they want to go. State-level vehicle fee revenue pays for Amtrak Cascades intercity rail service, keeps our Washington State Patrol troopers on the beat, supports freight mobility infrastructure, and vital services like vanpools and transit grants for rural communities.

If we don’t defeat I-976, Eyman’s latest scheme, countless essential projects will be delayed or canceled, because the state doesn’t simply have any money sitting around to replace the lost billions. The cuts I-976 would necessitate will set back our efforts to invest in safer roads, earthquake-resistant bridges, and higher quality transit by two decades.

Despite the confidence he projects, Tim Eyman is clearly nervous about losing this campaign. That’s why he is lying to the public about the destruction I-976 would cause when he does interviews with the press.

You are here:

View our I-976 Impact Map

Permanent Defense has created a tool for visualizing projects and services that could be lost if Tim Eyman’s I-976  is implemented. Take a look:

NO on I-976 Impact Map

We’ve also published a guide to the map which you can read here.

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Permanent Defense works to protect Washington by building a first line of defense against threats to the common wealth and Constitution of the Evergreen State — like Tim Eyman's initiative factory. Learn more.

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