Tim Eyman again floods reporters’ inboxes with worthless ten-year cost projections

Legislation & TestimonyRethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Just before 10 AM this morning, Tim Eyman sent out an email claiming that the House Democrats’ revenue package raises taxes by $5.3 billion. Eyman enclosed a table of ten year cost estimates prepared by the Office of Financial Management (OFM).

What Eyman neglected to mention is that these ten year cost projections are worthless, and OFM only prepares them because they’re required to under Eyman’s Initiative 960. Eyman, a master of media manipulation, put a provision requiring the projections into his initiative so that he can regularly send reporters tables like this, and inflate the amount of proposed revenue increases.

Anything sounds bigger when it’s stretched out over ten years. Tim Eyman may well make over a million dollars from his initiative factory…. over the next ten years. His campaign committee “Voters Want More Choices” may well be the recipient of more than $20 million in checks from powerful interests like BP, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and ConocoPhillips… over the next ten years.

Eyman knows as well as we do that the Legislature prepares and adopts biennial budgets, not decennial budgets. But he doesn’t care.

“$5.3 billion” sounds much scarier than $885 million.

Eyman also doesn’t care that his “advisory vote” scheme is unconstitutional and a colossal waste of money. He likes the prospect of twelve separate questions on the November ballot asking the people of Washington to give their opinion on any increases in revenue the Legislature approves – because he already knows what the results to those twelve questions would be.

But again, what Eyman doesn’t like to admit is that the answers you get depend on the questions you ask. If the Legislature put a bunch of “advisory vote” questions on the ballot asking Washingtonians if they like the idea of putting more money into universities, K-12 education, state parks, Apple Health, Disability Lifeline, and other vital public services, we’d undoubtedly see a whole lot of “yes” votes in response. Remember, we’ve seen initiatives that could be called unfunded mandates pass handily in the past. (I-728 and I-732 are good examples).

The Constitution provides for an initiative and referendum process; it does not provide for “advisory votes”. Eyman’s advisory vote scheme is unconstitutional, and it’s unfortunate that the Supreme Court did not strike it down in its LEV decision. It means that further legal action will likely be needed in order to remove the thirsty leech Eyman’s initiatives have slapped on the state and counties’ elections budgets.

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