November 20th, 2014
If Tim Eyman’s so concerned about flat wages, why’s he trying to repeal $15/hour in Seattle & SeaTac?
As we have seen over the last fifteen years, Tim Eyman’s view is that there is never a good time for the people of Washington to pool their resources to get things done.
It doesn’t matter whether the economy is strong or weak; what’s crystal clear is that Eyman simply doesn’t believe in mutual responsibility or cooperation for the greater good, which are values that have defined Washington throughout its history.
When the economy has been weak, Eyman has cited it as a reason not to raise revenue, forgetting or conveniently ignoring that we rely on our public services as a people the most when times are hard — whether that’s during a recession or in the aftermath of a disaster like the Oso mudslide earlier this year.
(As writer Anne Herbert once quipped, reflecting on the value of one of the most important public services provided at the local level: “Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.”)
Curiously, however, in several recent emails to his followers and to reporters, Tim Eyman has cited stagnant wages to buttress his argument that state lawmakers should not take any action that raises revenue in the 2015 legislative session. From his email on Monday:
Besides, wages are flat. Working families are struggling. Even if Inslee and the Democrats wanted to ignore the people’s plight, there’s simply no way the people can afford higher taxes now.
And again today:
Our job is to constantly remind these non-Seattle legislators the voters’ clear message: “Don’t raise taxes, prioritize spending, use existing revenues more cost effectively. With wages flat, we’re tapped out.“
It is ironic that Eyman keeps talking about wages being flat, because he’s spent much of the summer and autumn trying to drum up funding for an initiative that would prevent cities like Seattle and SeaTac from setting their own minimum wages at a level above what the state requires. Passage of the initiative Eyman has been hawking to the business community would result in more a thousand workers’ wages being cut in SeaTac or the Port of Seattle and cancel pay raises that are due to thousands more workers in Seattle.
In an August 15th memo to potential funders, Eyman called the $15/hour minimum wage enacted in SeaTac and Seattle a “problem”, writing:
Here’s our situation in Washington State:
PROBLEM: The $15 minimum wage has been passed in SeaTac, Seattle, and Port of Seattle and continues to spread (Tacoma, Olympia, Bellingham, and other cities). The good guys have been fighting back city-by-city. They’ve failed every time. A legislative bill in Olympia on state preemption was introduced last session and it went nowhere.
Eyman’s proposed “solution”? Use a statewide initiative to slash wages in the aforementioned jurisdictions back down to what the state requires. In the memo, Eyman proposed a budget of $1.1 million for the fall signature drive, which he wanted to begin on September 1st and finish by October 31st, and another $1.1 million to promote the initiative in 2015.
So far, Eyman has only been able to find three backers for his scheme: Suzie Burke, Faye Garneau, and Don Root. Burke and Garneau each gave $50,000 back in August; Root recently gave $1,000. Although $101,000 would certainly make for a nice payday to Eyman, it’s not enough to run a signature drive… and consequently, Eyman’s efforts to get an initiative going to overturn the minimum wage ordinances in Seattle and SeaTac remains stalled.
Since Eyman can’t seem to find ample seed money from a wealthy benefactor to launch a new initiative, he’s been asking supporters to help him “gear up” for the 2015 legislative session.
It sounds to us like he’s asking his supporters to pay him for doing lobbying work. Shouldn’t he register with the Public Disclosure Commission, then, like other paid lobbyists do? Or perhaps, as in the past, Eyman thinks the rules simply don’t apply to him.