NPI thanks Attorney General Bob Ferguson for filing three new campaign finance complaints against Tim Eyman

Statements & Advisories

Today, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office announced that the State of Washington has filed three new campaign finance complaints against initiative promoter Tim Eyman and his associates in Thurston County Superior Court. The complaints concern violations of RCW Chapter 42.17A uncovered by NPI’s Permanent Defense, Washingtonians For Ethical Government (WFEG), and Keep Washington Rolling (KWR), which were the subject of a set of citizen action notices sent by WFEG and KWR in May and June.

RCW 42.17A.765 (4) allows a person or organization who believes Washington’s public disclosure laws to have been violated to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the state to enforce the law, but only if the Attorney General and the Prosecuting Attorney of the county in which the violation occurred are given an opportunity to sue first and choose not to do so.

The citizen’s action is a crucially important enforcement tool, because the Public Disclosure Commission can take a long time to process traditional complaints due to being underfunded and understaffed. For example, more than three years transpired before Sherry Bockwinkel’s 2012 complaint against Tim Eyman and his campaign committees was fully investigated by PDC staff and acted on by the Commission.

One year ago, in September of 2015, the PDC unanimously voted to refer that case to Ferguson’s office for further action. Ferguon’s investigators have spent months trying to acquire the evidence they need to complete their investigation, but they’ve been hindered by Eyman and his associates’ repeated refusal to cooperate. Over the summer, attorneys representing the people of Washington went to court to compel Eyman’s cooperation.

In the meantime, Eyman has continued to brazenly flout RCW Chapter 42.17A. NPI believes aggressive and timely enforcement is needed to prevent Eyman from making a mockery of Washington’s public disclosure laws, and is committed to doing its part to uncover future potential violations and laying the groundwork for speedy prosecution of those violations.

Working with Washingtonians For Ethical Government, NPI recently discovered that Eyman had once again broken the law by concealing the source of most of the funds raised by his newest political committee, We Love Our Cars, which was formed in June. This month, WFEG notified Attorney General Ferguson and King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg it plans to file suit against Eyman over this concealment through another citizen’s action.

“Tim Eyman is a serial offender who continues to violate our public disclosure laws with impunity,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, who also serves as a boardmember of Washingtonians For Ethical Government. “Justice is not served when it takes years for prolific violators like Eyman to be held accountable for flouting the basic reporting rules established by the people and the people’s legislators to shine a light on money in politics in Washington.”

“Fortunately, the law provides a useful tool for expediting enforcement: the citizen’s action. These complaints all appropriately began with the sending of citizen’s action notices. We thank Attorney General Ferguson for stepping up to take on these cases. We will be following future developments with great interest.”

Tim Eyman’s associates ordered to pay $10,000+ in court costs and attorneys fees

In the Courts

Tim Eyman’s associates Roy Ruffino and Eddie Agazarm, who Eyman depends on to run his signature drives, have been ordered to pay over $10,000 in court costs and attorneys’ fees to the State of Washington by Thurston County Superior Court Judge Mary Sue Wilson for failing to cooperate with Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s investigation into Eyman’s serious violations of Washington’s public disclosure law.

The order reads:

THIS MATTER came before the Court on the State’s Motion to Set Attorneys’ Fees and Costs; the parties appeared through counsel. The Court considered the records and files in this matter as well as the arguments of the parties. Respondents failed to file a response.

Having previously ordered that the State was entitled to payment of attorneys’ fees and costs associated with initiating this case, and having determined that the State’s request for fees and costs through the time of filing of this motion is reasonable, the Court hereby ORDERS as follows:

  1. The State’s Motion to Set Attorneys’ Fees and Costs is granted.
  2. For work completed through the date of the filing of this motion, Respondents shall pay Petitioner, State of Washington, the amount of $9,975.00 as reasonable attorneys fees and the amount of $494.50 as costs pursuant to RCW 42.17A.765(5).
  3. The Court reserves the right to order payment of additional attorneys’ fees and costs for any further proceedings brought by the State for Respondents’ failure to comply with the Court’s Order dated July 1, 2016, including but not limited to attorneys’ fees and costs related to the State’s pending Motion for Contempt of Court.

DONE IN OPEN COURT this 5th day of August, 2016.

While Wilson granted the state’s motion to set attorneys fees, she decided not to consider a motion to hold Ruffno and Agazarm in contempt of court for the time being, instead directing the parties to work together to reschedule a hearing on that motion for later this month. A Snohomish County Superior Court judge is scheduled to hear arguments concerning a related motion to hold Eyman himself in contempt of court next Friday.

The team at NPI is pleased that Eyman and his associates are finally paying a price for their stonewalling, which has prevented the people of Washington from knowing what really happened. We agree with the Attorney General’s office that it is evident Eyman has no desire to cooperate with this investigation. To the extent he has turned over records sought, it is merely so he can feign compliance with lawfully-issued civil orders seeking documents that would bring the truth to light. And that’s not good enough. We support the state’s motions asking that Eyman and company be held in contempt of court.

NPI thanks AG Bob Ferguson for asking courts to hold Tim Eyman in contempt

In the Courts

Today, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office announced it has filed motions in Snohomish and Thurston County Superior Court asking that Tim Eyman and his associates be found in contempt for failing to fully cooperate with its investigation into Eyman’s serious alleged violations of Washington’s public disclosure laws.

In an attempt to put an end to Eyman’s stonewalling, Ferguson is seeking fines of $2,000 a day and authorization to obtain documents directly from the federal government and the banks Eyman does business with.

“We applaud Attorney General Ferguson for going back to court to hold Tim Eyman accountable for his refusal to produce the records crucial to the completion of this important investigation,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to Eyman’s initiatives for over fourteen years.

“Many years ago, the people of Washington created the Public Disclosure Commission and our campaign finance reporting system in order to shine a light on money in politics. Sadly, Tim Eyman has been operating for years as though that law doesn’t apply to him.”

“Attorney General Ferguson and our state attorneys have been patiently waiting for Tim Eyman to turn over the documents they need to uncover the truth for months, but they have been waiting in vain. It has become abundantly clear that Eyman has no intention of cooperating — presumably because he’s afraid of what the evidence will show once it has been produced. As our Attorney General has said, that’s simply unacceptable.”

“We believe the relief being sought in this contempt motion is proper and appropriate, and we hope it is swiftly granted, so that justice can be served, and the essential facts needed to resolve this case brought to light.”

It’s a great day for Washington: I-1515’s failure means zero right wing initiatives on the November ballot

Ballot Watchdogging

Shortly after the close of business today, word came down from Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s office that backers of Initiative 1515 had canceled their Friday appointment to turn in petitions, owing to having failed to collect the minimum number of signatures required to make Washington’s November 2016 ballot. The demise of I-1515 is a watershed victory for LGBT civil rights, and leaves in place a Human Rights Commission rule that expressly protects the right of transgender individuals to access washrooms and bathrooms designated for the gender they identify as.

The law that serves as the basis for the Human Rights Commission rule I-1515 tried to repeal was itself briefly threatened ten years ago by a failed referendum instigated by Tim Eyman that NPI’s Permanent Defense fiercely opposed. Eyman teamed up with fundamentalist pastors and the religious right for the campaign. But, as with I-1515, they never turned in any signatures, and so Referendum 65 did not qualify for the November 2006 ballot.

Eyman is also not on the ballot again this year, due to having failed to persuade his wealthy benefactors to pour money into the various schemes he had claimed to be working on for 2016. This November will thus be the fourth Eyman-free general election since the 1990s, after 2003, 2006, and 2014.

More significantly, the collapse of I-1515 and the unexpected idling of Eyman’s initiative factory means that, for the first time this century, there will be zero right wing initiatives on Washington’s November ballot.

For NPI’s Permanent Defense, it is a historic and unprecedented moment.

“2016 marks the first time in the history of Permanent Defense that we have not had a right wing-backed ballot measure to fight on the general election ballot,” said NPI/Permanent Defense founder Andrew Villeneuve.

“This is a truly encouraging and welcome development. As a state, our focus needs to be on improving lives, expanding freedom, and bettering communities. Progress gets impeded when we have to beat back attacks on our Constitution, our commonwealth, and our values. Fortunately, Washington progressives have come together to make the most of this presidential election cycle. Voters will see a robust mix of worthy ideas, including a proposal to raise the minimum wage and create extreme risk protection orders — but no right wing measures that would take our state backwards. That’s as it should be.”

NPI welcomes Judge Ellen Fair’s order requiring Tim Eyman’s cooperation with AG Ferguson’s investigation

In the Courts

Notoriously dishonest initiative promoter Tim Eyman must turn over tax returns, bank statements, and other records requested by Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office within the next two weeks, Snohomish County Court Judge Ellen Fair decided today, ordering that Eyman comply with Ferguson’s lawfully issued subpoenas.

Ferguson’s office has been seeking the records for months so it can investigate serious violations of Washington’s public disclosure laws uncovered during a multiyear Public Disclosure Commission investigation of Eyman’s finances, which was referred to Ferguson’s office last autumn.

Ferguson’s probe has been stalled due to a lack of cooperation by Eyman and his associates, which prompted the filing of petitions in Snohomish and Thurston Superior Courts. At the time those petitions were filed, NPI called on Eyman to stop stonewalling and comply with the Attorney General’s subpoenas.

That has still not happened (Eyman’s attorney Mark Lamb’s response to the petitions was to declare that he was “happy to litigate” the issue), but hopefully it will very soon now that Judge Fair has issued her order.

“We welcome this important development and thank Attorney General Ferguson for going to court to hold Tim Eyman accountable and get this investigation moving,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to Eyman initiatives for more than fourteen years.

“Tim Eyman has operated for years as though the law simply doesn’t apply to him. He has pretended to be interested in cooperating with this investigation while stalling, obfuscating, and delaying at every turn. Enough! It’s time for the stonewalling to end. We hope that Judge Fair got Eyman’s attention today when she ordered him to pay the State of Washington for the costs of bringing this action. It’s about time Tim Eyman started paying a price for repeatedly wasting the people’s time and money.”

NPI applauds Attorney General Bob Ferguson for going to court to put an end to Tim Eyman’s stonewalling

In the Courts

Following Attorney General Bob Ferguon’s announcement today that his office has filed motions in Snohomish and Thurston Superior Court to enforce subpoenas issued as part of the state’s investigation into Tim Eyman’s egregious violations of Washiington’s public disclosure laws, the Northwest Progressive Institute called on Eyman and his associates to stop stonewalling and cooperate fully with investigators.

“We commend Attorney General Ferguson for going to court to compel Tim Eyman to turn over the records needed to investigate the illegal concealment uncovered by the Public Disclosure Commission during its investigation into the 2012 I-517 and I-1185 campaigns,” said NPI founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve.

“Today’s court filings make it plainly clear that Tim Eyman has been incredibly uncooperative with the Attorney General’s investigation since it began last autumn. He has refused to turn over documentation that would reveal what really happened. What little he has produced has been heavily redacted, suggesting he and is attorney are trying to drag this out as long as possible, and increase the cost of the investigation to taxpayers.”

“This stonewalling is completely unacceptable, and it needs to end immediately.”

“If Eyman expects to be exonerated, as his attorney Mark Lamb has previously said, then why is he refusing to cooperate with the state’s investigation? We can only conclude that it is because the evidence will show that Eyman is guilty of the charges against him, and Eyman wants to put off his day of reckoning for as long as possible. But that day is coming, and Eyman can’t stop it.”

Earlier today, in a related development, the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) notified Washingtonians For Ethical Government (WFEG) that it has opened an investigation into its allegations that Tim Eyman again broke the law by failing to report the launch of an April 2016 independent expenditure against several dozen Democratic state legislators, and for failing to include required disclosures in the ads produced as part of the expenditure.

WFEG notified Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg on May 25th in a forty-five day notice letter that it would bring a citizens’ action against Eyman in Superior Court if the state did not take action against Eyman. On June 7th, 2016, the Attorney General referred the matter to the PDC for review. The PDC has now opened an investigation into the allegations and assigned a case number — 5729.

“We are pleased to hear that the PDC is investigating Eyman’s most recent public disclosure law violations,” said Villeneuve, who serves as a boardmember of Washingtonians For Ethical Government. “Tim Eyman is a serial offender who needs to be held accountable. He has been given plenty of opportunities to clean up his act, and he has failed to do so. He should be penalized to the maximum extent the law allows for these violations, as well as his previous violations.”

“Fidalgo” is here: Welcome to the new Permanent Defense, circa 2016!

Announcements

Today, after many months of hard work, the team at NPI is pleased to unveil Permanent Defense 9.0, codenamed “Fidalgo”.

As you probably noticed from the moment you pulled up permanentdefense.org, the site looks a lot different than it used to, and that’s no accident. “Fidalgo” is nothing less than a sweeping, thoughtful top-to-bottom redesign.

The previous incarnation of the site, codenamed “Camano”, lasted for more than six years, which in Internet years is more like a century. We figured the time was ripe to give Permanent Defense’s online home a visual overhaul.

Unlike with “Camano”, however, not much has changed under-the-hood. Six years ago, when we migrated Permanent Defense to WordPress, we were confident we’d picked the perfect content management system for the project, and not a day has gone by since when we’ve regretted that decision. Because we already had a rock-solid backend to work with, we were able to concentrate on giving Permanent Defense a beautiful, polished new exterior that’s responsive, mobile-friendly, and pleasing to the eye.

“Fidalgo” isn’t merely eye candy, though. There’s also a plethora of new and improved content. Missing or incomplete pages from bygone years that weren’t previously imported from the archives are now part of the site, and there are a number of new pages, too. Here’s a summary of highlights of this new version:

  • Brand new responsive design. Whether you’re visiting from a smartphone, tablet, notebook, or desktop with a big high-resolution monitor, you’ll be able to browse a website that’s accessible, visually appealing, and neatly-organized.
  • Streamlined navigation. The new mobile-friendly Permanent Defense navbar makes it easy to move between pages and posts. It’s a modern replacement for the flat, antiquated set of buttons found in prior versions.
  • Breadcrumbs to aid in wayfinding. In addition to the new navbar, there’s also a breadcrumb widget providing contextual navigation assistance.
  • Updated graphics. Everywhere you look, you’ll see new graphics, with the notable and worthy exception of the timeless Permanent Defense logo that dates back to the site’s inception. The bigger your display, the more you’ll be able to see of Mount Baker, which graces the site’s nameplate.
  • Modern charts. The new Permanent Defense utilizes JavaScript and HTML5 to render charts instead of Adobe Flash, which is an insecure, dying technology.
  • New intuitive page hierarchy. Permanent Defense’s more than one hundred pages are now organized into an intuitive hierarchy, which simplifies browsing.

New pages include:

  • Current Campaigns. Learn about the right wing initiatives we’re presently fighting.
  • Think Before You Ink. What to be on guard against when approached by a petitioner.
  • Archive. Useful landing page for exploring old content.

And finally, be sure to check out our completely redesigned Dangerous Initiatives reference, which contains comprehensive, in-depth profiles of right wing initiatives that have appeared on Washington’s ballot during the Eyman error.

We took great care in redesigning the site not to break anything.

For the most part, PD’s permalinks have not changed, so you shouldn’t run into errors while following external links. Any permalinks that did change due to modifications to the site’s hierarchy were given redirects. Sadly, that’s something a lot of mass media outlets completely neglect to do when they launch new incarnations of their websites. We dislike broken links and link rot as much as you do, so we’ve done our best to ensure existing URLs continue to resolve properly.

We hope you enjoy the new Permanent Defense!

Tim Eyman concedes he won’t make 2016 ballot; NPI’s Permanent Defense ready to fight I-869

Ballot WatchdoggingStatements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

Implicitly conceding at last that he doesn’t actually have a paid signature drive in the field and thus won’t have anything on the 2016 ballot, initiative profiteer Tim Eyman announced this morning that he’s devoting his energies to qualifying a new initiative for 2017 that would eviscerate funding for roads and transit at both the state and regional levels.

“Today is the third time in the past seven months that Tim Eyman has ‘launched’ a new initiative,” noted Northwest Progressive Institute and Permanent Defense founder Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to Eyman initiatives for over fourteen years.

“The first time was back in November of 2015 when he said he was doing a follow-up to I-1366 to require revenue increases to expire after a year. Then, in February, he said he was also going to try to qualify to the 2016 ballot I-1421, an initiative to repeal vehicle fees. Now he says he’s doing I-869, a similar initiative to the Legislature for 2017. His announcement today makes no reference to either of those previously planned initiatives.”

“And that’s no accident. Eyman doesn’t like to dwell on failure, and it’s evident at this point he will fail to make the 2016 ballot with anything. It appears the good people of Washington will once again be able to enjoy an Eyman-free election this autumn, while having the opportunity to consider several progressive initiatives that would move our state forward. That’s a victory we will be celebrating all summer long.”

“Time will tell if I-869 is for real or not. Remember, Eyman printed up petitions for I-1421 too — and even made a big show of being the first to sign one in front of television cameras — but I-1421 has now been abandoned. I-869 won’t make it either unless Eyman has commitments from his wealthy benefactors to fund a signature drive. The gears of his initiative factory simply cannot turn without big money.”

In the event I-869 does have serious money behind it, NPI’s Permanent Defense is prepared to fight it and defeat it, together with the Keep Washington Rolling coalition and many other allies.

“Tim Eyman has tried to mess with mobility in our state many times before and been defeated,” Villeneuve observed.

“In 2000, he qualified a scheme to take money away from transit and spend it on highway construction. Voters defeated it. In 2008, he qualified a scheme to eviscerate our HOV system. Voters defeated it. In 2011, he qualified a scheme to prohibit variable tolling and block East Link light rail. Voters defeated it.”

Eyman claims that a survey he paid for shows that I-869 is wildly popular, but the press and public should be aware Eyman says that about all of his initiatives.

Prior to the 2005 general election, Eyman boasted that John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur’s initiative to repeal the fuel tax increases approved by the 2005 Legislature as part of that year’s transportation package was destined for certain victory. Following I-912’s qualification, many pundits shared that view, or were skeptical that I-912 could be beaten.

“With I-912, inevitably approved this fall, voters will say NO to Queen Christine’s underhanded effort to sneak through a multi-billion tax increase when the voters clearly opposed it,” Tim Eyman wrote in a September 26th, 2005 email.

But instead, much to Eyman’s astonishment, I-912 was defeated by voters in a landmark victory, after opponents successfully waged a compelling NO campaign.

NPI is a veteran of that campaign, as are the many organizations that belong to Keep Washington Rolling.

“Voters have repeatedly said no to right wing initiatives that would mess with our transportation system, but Eyman refuses to listen,” said Villeneuve. “The will of the voters clearly doesn’t matter to him. He just keeps recycling the same awful ideas, election cycle after election cycle. We are prepared and committed to ensuring that I-869 ends up in the same graveyard as most of Eyman’s other initiatives, should it end up qualifying to the Legislature at the end of the year. The investments we’ve made to strengthen mobility in Washington must be protected.”

An updated version of Tim Eyman’s Failure Chart, documenting the long list of Eyman initiatives that have either failed to make the ballot, been defeated by voters, or struck down as unconstitutional may be viewed on Permanent Defense’s website.

Supreme Court affirms ruling that Tim Eyman’s I-1366 is unconstitutional in its entirety

In the Courts

This morning, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Tim Eyman’s I-1366 is unconstitutional, affirming King County Superior Court Judge William Downing’s January ruling striking down the initiative as null and void in its entirety. Six justices signed the majority opinion, authored by Chief Justice Barbara Madsen, while the remaining three justices signed a concurring opinion authored by Associate Justice Steven González.

No further appeal is possible, so today’s verdict means that I-1366 is dead.

I-1366, narrowly approved by a fewer than twenty percent of the state’s registered voters last November, attempted to coerce legislators into passing a constitutional amendment to permanently require a two-thirds vote to raise revenue.

In the event lawmakers refused to vote for Eyman’s desired amendment by April 15th, 2016, the sales tax would have been cut by about 15%, depriving Washington’s public services of a whopping $8 billion over six years.

However, I-1366’s sales tax cut was never implemented because the initiative was found to be unconstitutional by Judge Downing. With that decision now affirmed, I-1366 is no longer a threat to Washington’s people or future.

“We are elated by today’s ruling,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to Tim Eyman initiatives for more than fourteen years.

“This is truly a great moment for our beloved state. Today, one of the most destructive Eyman initiatives of all time has been finally sent to the graveyard of Washington politics by a united Supreme Court. Our popularly-elected Justices stood up for us and upheld our Constitution, safeguarding our tradition of majority rule and putting a stop to Tim Eyman’s outrageous abuse of the initiative power.”

“All of us at NPI extend our deepest thanks to Paul Lawrence and the team at Pacifica Law Group that represented our courageous and dedicated friends Reuven Carlyle, David Frockt, Paul Bell, Eden Mack, Tony Lee, Angela Bartels, Jerry Reilly, and the League of Women Voters of Washington in this important case. They were outstanding, and they brought the best case we believe could possibly have been brought against this awful initiative, all but guaranteeing it would be thrown out.”

“We look forward to celebrating this victory with our tireless supporters, who have kept us going through thick and thin.”

An updated version of Tim Eyman’s Failure Chart, documenting the long list of Eyman initiatives that have either failed to make the ballot, been defeated by voters, or struck down as unconstitutional may be viewed here.

I-695’s devastating impact is no laughing matter

Election PostmortemRethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Irked by a letter to the editor published by The Herald of Everett, initiative profiteer Tim Eyman this morning sent out an email to his followers ridiculing elected representatives and civic leaders over their opposition to I-695 (on the ballot in November of 1999), which wiped out billions of dollars in funding for public services following its implementation by the Legislature in 2000.

“[F]or nearly a decade, our initiative was blamed for most everything. ‘Heavy rainfall in Seattle caused by I-695’ — ‘I-695 spurs riots in LA’ — ‘Earthquake in East Timor exacerbated by I-695’. Our opponents couldn’t get enough of it. But eventually, their silliness eventually dissipated,” Eyman wrote in his email.

To NPI’s knowledge, no one opposed to I-695 has blamed it for out-of-state civil unrest, bad weather, or earthquakes abroad. However, Eyman’s I-695 has been blamed — and deservedly so — for having made our tax code more regressive and weakened the vital public services which our tax system funds.

The devastating impacts of I-695 are no laughing matter, nor were they overstated by Lynnwood’s Jerry Fraser in his letter to the editor.

Before I-695 was reinstated by Governor Gary Locke and lawmakers, the state-level MVET was projected to bring in more than one and half billion dollars during the 2001-2003 biennium, as noted by the Office of Financial Management (OFM) in its 1999 fiscal impact statement:

In the aggregate, I-695 would reduce motor vehicle taxes and fees by up to $1.1 billion in the 1999-01 Biennium and by up to $1.7 billion in the 2001-03 Biennium… As detailed on Table 1, the initiative would eliminate up to $1.1 billion in state revenues in the 1999-01 Biennium and up to $1.7 billion in the 2001-03 Biennium, which currently support transportation, criminal justice, public health, and other programs.  It also repeals the statutory method for the valuation of vehicles, as well as the distribution formulas for MVET revenue.

OFM’s analysis went on to offer a list of major public services funded by the state MVET:

  • Local transit districts
  • County public health account
  • Distressed county assistance account
  • Ferry capital construction account
  • Ferry operations account
  • Motor vehicle fund
  • Transportation fund
  • City & county sales tax equalization
  • Municipal & county criminal justice

Prior to its repeal, about 47% of the statewide MVET went to state transportation, while 29% went to local transit agencies and 24% went to local governments.

Below is a compendium of four fact sheets documenting the impact that I-695 was projected to have on a selection of county and city governments throughout the state:

Passage of Tim Eyman’s I-695, and the Legislature’s subsequent decision to reinstate it after it was struck down by the State Supreme Court in the ATU case had huge ramifications (like delayed/lost bond sales), and ushered in an era of backfilling at all levels of government that went on for years.

“We’re not even close to filling the holes,” State Representative Hans Dunshee told The Seattle Times a few months after the 1999 general election. “The largest impacts of I-695 will be unaddressed. That’s going to take more working and more thinking.”

Times editors felt the fallout from I-695 was so significant and newsworthy that they established a special section on seattletimes.com to chronicle developments.

To replace the sudden, giant funding loss resulting from I-695, state agencies and local governments across Washington were forced to resort to drastic emergency measures.

Washington State Ferries was forced to hike fares dramatically (because funding for operations decreased by 58% and capital funding decreased by 70%).

The City of Mountlake Terrace stopped providing animal control.

Washington State University instructed its extension offices to begin preparing for massive budget cuts.

And the laudable goal of reducing class size and putting more money into schools fell by the wayside as the Legislature struggled to backfill the loss of MVET money.

In some cases, voters were asked to approve tax increases to replace lost funding.

In Longview, voters were asked to approve a flood control levy (and they said yes). The success of the levy mitigated one problem, but basic and essential public services still took a big hit in a Longview. The Daily News reported on November 16th, 2000:

The loss of motor vehicle excise taxes with last year’s passage of Initiative 695 hit Longview hard, and will reduce city revenue by about $1.4 million in 2001-2002, [Longview finance director Kurt] Sacha said. All city departments took cuts, and Longview police lost five officer positions in 2000.

King County Metro also went to the voters to gain back lost funding (and again, the voters said yes). Unfortunately, in Metro’s case, the mechanism the Legislature came up with to allow the agency to backfill from I-695 was an increase in its sales tax authority.

So even though the voters said yes to Metro’s request, the dot-com bust wiped out the projected revenue, as this 2010 King County Metro “System Overview” presentation explained on Slide 19 (“Funding Issues”):

  • 1999: I-695 approved. Metro’s funding reduced by $110 million per year (29% of budget)
  • 2000: Transit sales tax authority raised by Legislature to 0.9 percent
  • 2000: 0.2 percent Metro sales tax approved
  • 2000: Dot com bust: The projected sales tax growth to fund most of the service adds in the plan is lost
  • Plan became largely unfunded, but included the revised allocation policy of “40-40-20

In Snohomish County, Community Transit initially responded to I-695 by laying off dozens off bus drivers. Here’s how the Seattle Times reported it:

You’re a mean one, Mr. Eyman. All the bus drivers in Whoville say so.

Whoville, of course, is where the Grinch stole Christmas. And Community Transit (CT) drivers in Snohomish County who received layoff notices on the eve of the holidays want everyone to know that Initiative 695 sponsor Tim Eyman is their Grinch.

They gathered yesterday at the Labor Temple here to tell how Eyman – and the state’s voters – took their holiday cheer.

Pink slips were handed to 90 CT drivers and other employees earlier this month, announcing layoffs effective Feb. 6. Thirty other employees will be cut from full- to part-time status. The move was made in response to a projected loss of $18.7 million, 30 percent of CT’s budget next year.

Community Transit subsequently reversed some cuts to bus service using temporary funding. County leaders warned residents at the time that the service restorations might not be permanent. And sure enough, they weren’t. Sunday service went away that same year. It was brought back in 2002, then indefinitely suspended again in 2010 along with paratransit for disabled Snohomish County residents.

Five long years went by before Community Transit brought back Sunday service.

The motor vehicle excise tax used to be a stable revenue source that transit agencies could count on. After the statewide MVET was eviscerated, transit agencies became heavily dependent on sales taxes. As anyone with a basic understanding of public finance knows, the sales tax yields less revenue during economic downturns. Downturns, however, are precisely when many people rely on public services the most.

Community Transit, Metro, Sound Transit, and other transit providers will be facing the same predicaments they’ve grappled with in the past as soon as another recession occurs. Sales tax funding will go down, and that will jeopardize essential service that people rely on.

This is one of the many long-term consequences of I-695 that Tim Eyman never wants to talk about. He may not ride the bus, but hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians do. To them, the prospect of not being able to get to their job on Sunday, or utilize paratransit service to participate in community functions, is very scary.

Tim Eyman can pretend the real and serious consequences of I-695 don’t exist, but neither we nor our elected representatives can afford to live in his fantasyland.

Washington is home to more than seven million people. By working together and pooling our resources, there is much we can accomplish. To move forward and raise our quality of life, it’s imperative that we reject Tim Eyman’s destructive agenda and reaffirm that we believe in the values that Washington was founded on. We call upon our elected representatives at all levels to work with us to undo the harm caused by Eyman’s past initiatives as well as defeat any new schemes that Eyman comes up with.

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