March 25th, 2014
Tim Eyman is falsely advertising Initiative 1325
Ever since the Washington State Supreme Court decided the League of Education Voters case in early 2013, Tim Eyman has been agitating to reinstate the unconstitutional two-thirds vote requirement for raising revenue contained within I-601 and its clones. After arguing for years that the two-thirds vote requirement was constitutional (it wasn’t; it violated Article II, Section 22) Eyman has now changed course, and is clamoring for a constitutional amendment.
In Washington, unlike other states, constitutional amendments must originate in the Legislature, and they must get a two-thirds vote to pass. Therein lies Eyman’s problem: Most state lawmakers are simply not interested in sabotaging our state’s cherished tradition of majority rule like he and his friends are. So Eyman is resorting to Ted Cruz-style coercion. His Initiative 1325 would wipe out about a billion dollars in funding for education each year by cutting the state sales tax, unless state lawmakers pass a constitutional amendment to reinstate the undemocratic two-thirds requirement from I-601 and its clones.
But, as usual, Eyman is being dishonest in his marketing. He doesn’t acknowledge that his initiative is really about slashing the sales tax unless the Legislature does what he wants, which would make it impossible for the state to fulfill its paramount duty of providing for the ample education of every child in Washington under Article IX.
In the sad and tragic event the Legislature did capitulate to Eyman, it would mean that decisions about raising revenue would be permanently placed in the hands of the few, not the many, thus dooming any possibility of real tax reform to help Washington’s families and strengthen our state’s common wealth.
Eyman has been referring to I-1325 both as a constitutional amendment and a constitutional amendment initiative. It is neither.
An initiative cannot alter the Washington State Constitution, and there is no such thing as a “constitutional amendment initiative”.
“Constitutional amendments and initiatives are very different,” said NPI founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve. “Initiatives are citizen-led attempts to modify the Revised Code of Washington; constitutional amendments are proposed changes to our state’s plan of government. Constitutional amendments must originate in the Legislature and receive a two-thirds vote before being placed on the ballot for ratification by the people. The Legislature also has the power to call a constitutional convention, but again, this takes a two-thirds vote.”
In early drafts of what later became I-1325, Eyman actually included a clause that stipulated the initiative should be cited as a constitutional amendment:
TITLE OF THE ACT
NEW SECTION. Sec. 8. This act is known and may be cited as the “2/3 Constitutional Amendment.”
(Here’s an example from I-641, a previous incarnation of I-1325 filed in December 2013).
He later changed it to this:
TITLE OF THE ACT
NEW SECTION. Sec. 6. This act is known and may be cited as the “Taxpayer Protection Act.”
Although Eyman changed the title provision for I-1325, he is still falsely marketing I-1325 as a constitutional amendment. Petitions for I-1325 look like petitions for Eyman’s I-601 clones. At the top, they declare in big bold lettering “TOUGHER TO RAISE TAXES”. The subheading says “Let the voters decide on a 2/3rds constitutional amendment”. In an adjacent box, Eyman editorializes:
Voters OK’d this policy in 2012, politicians took it away, this initiative brings it right back again.
This is false, or highly misleading, on all counts:
- Voters did not approve an initiative like I-1325 in 2012 – they approved I-1185, an unconstitutional I-601 clone that had different provisions in it;
- The Supreme Court, consisting of nine nonpartisan justices, invalidated I-601 and its clones, not legislators, as the word “politicians” seems to imply;
- I-1325 would not bring back the unconstitutional two-thirds requirement in I-1185. Instead, it would slash the sales tax unless the Legislature passes a constitutional amendment and puts it on the ballot before April 15th, 2015.
In an email today, titled, “Traveling the state promoting our 2/3 Constitutional Amendment Initiative”, Eyman writes:
It’s been a whirlwind effort. It’s been exciting, exhilarating, and yes, exhausting. But the enthusiasm and support from everyone for the 2/3 Constitutional Amendment Initiative has really been inspiring. Everyone loves the fact that it’s a constitutional amendment, meaning it will provide permanent protection. Pass it one time and it’ll be for all-time. I-1325 will keep Olympia on a short leash FOREVER!
This is false. Once again, I-1325 is not a constitutional amendment. It is an initiative that would slash the sales tax by half of one percent, resulting in the loss of about a billion dollars per year for our public schools, unless the Legislature decides to pass a constitutional amendment to Eyman’s liking. Eyman cannot force state lawmakers to do what he wants, but he is trying anyway with I-1325.
Eyman delights in wrecking government and putting people who have chosen to serve Washington as elected leaders in impossible positions.
I-1325 is likely itself unconstitutional, because, as mentioned, it would interfere with the state’s ability to carry out its paramount duty to provide for the ample provision of the education of Washington’s youth. The Washington State Supreme Court has already ruled in McCleary that the state is failing to abide by Article IX of the Constitution by underfunding our schools.
A better, more accurate title for I-1325 would be the “Denying Our Children the Education They Deserve” initiative.
No one who writes about or reports on I-1325 should use the deceptive description that Eyman is using, because it masks the truth about the initiative. Either of the outcomes Eyman is attempting to bring about with I-1325 would have disastrous implications. Simply put, I-1325 is a noxious, incredibly destructive initiative. It deserves to be defeated, and Tim Eyman’s false marketing of it deserves to be exposed.