September 28th, 2009
Initiative 1033 a recipe for unstable budgets and a bankrupt common wealth
In debates and forums across the state, initiative huckster Tim Eyman continues to try to peddle his latest scheme to trap Washington State in a permanent recession by claiming that it will stop politicians from “creating unsustainable budgets.”
This “unsustainable budgets” talking point is a cowardly deception on Eyman’s part that not only wildly distorts history but also the impact of his own initiative.
Using data from the Office of Financial Management and the Office of the Revenue Forecast Council, the Northwest Progressive Institute recently released a chart that shows that our state’s expenditures over the last three bienniums are well within historical norms dating back more than twenty five years.
(The last three bienniums are the period of time when Eyman claimed that Gregoire and the Legislature were “overextending”).
You can see this chart for yourself at the Vote NO I-1033 campaign hub.
At this link is also an explanation of the methodology the chart uses, along with a chart that also measures taxes as a percent of personal income. That chart shows that, like expenditures, revenue is not skyrocketing at all. Washington currently ranks 35th when compared to how much other states collect in terms of state and local taxes, which means we’re actually in the bottom third of states.
Back during the late 1990s, when demand for services was increasing, Washington State was neglecting infrastructure investments and not keeping pace with rapid economic growth, thanks to the shortsighted limits imposed by Initiative 601, which incidentally, did not pass by a very large margin.
A series of disasters in the 2000s, including repeated flooding, a drought, and the Nisqually earthquake in 2001, made it plainly evident that Initiative 601’s inflexible restrictions were preventing the state from making the needed investments in emergency preparedness and essential public services that we all rely on in our daily lives. So the Legislature acted to suspend Initiative 601.
And the investments it made, which were badly needed and demanded by the people of this state, did not overextend the state fiscally at all, nor did they cause the budget deficit we’re seeing now. That is a myth propagated by Tim Eyman and the Washington Policy Center that should be discarded. What did cause the Great Recession was irresponsible behavior, especially by the private sector.
Ironically, Initiative 1033 is just as irresponsible as the foolish, unsound business practices and the lax oversight policies that got us into the big mess we’re in. It is simply outrageous that Eyman is marketing Initiative 1033 as a cure; it’s really a whole new disease. But he’s doing precisely that because he knows if he admits his real intentions, Initiative 1033 would never pass.
And if there is one thing Tim Eyman is good at, it is deceiving voters.
Eyman’s I-1033 makes an existing situation super-awful by robbing the state, its counties, and it cities of close to eight billion dollars over the next five years. That’s eight billion dollars that would not be invested in schools, or parks, or hospitals, or police and fire protection.
How does Eyman think these services are going to be paid for? The state just patched a massive budget deficit with a combination of cuts and federal money. If state and local government could somehow be “reformed” to provide the same level of services that are provided now with far less money, it would already have been done. Because it would have been the easiest thing to do.
What legislator wants to make painful budget cuts just for fun?
But Eyman is not after more effective government. His objective is a future with no government. That’s why his initiative funnels the money it siphons off into a wealth redistribution fund. Think of it as a reverse Robin Hood scheme.
Eyman doesn’t believe in the good old American idea of pooling our resources to get things done. Instead, like a snake oil salesman, he offers gimmicky me-first initiatives that cause problems or worsen existing ones. Eyman’s initiatives are an annual homage to greed and selfishness.
By robbing public treasuries and redistributing that money primarily to the wealthy (who own the most property), Eyman’s scheme traps us in a permanent recession we can never climb out of.
Initiative 1033 guarantees deficits forever, as long as it in effect, because it locks in all the recent cuts as the baseline for future budgets. Under Initiative 1033, Washingtonians can forget about public safety, quality public schools, a cleaner environment, well maintained parks to visit, or assistance for seniors. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. All of those services will become further underfunded and there won’t be enough money to continue employing public servants like firefighters and teachers. At some point, some of the services we depend on will simply disappear. They won’t be able to exist because there won’t be any revenue available to put into them.
Eyman is doing all he can to market his sinister scheme to a gullible public, hoping that nobody will look behind the curtain and investigate the consequences. The truth is this: Initiative 1033 kills jobs, freezes essential public services at recession levels,, and scams anyone who isn’t already a rich property owner. Our economy is already hurting enough, Initiative 1033 would kill off any chance of recovery.
Initiative 1033 is a recipe for unstable budgets and a bankrupt common wealth that we must reject.