December 12th, 2017
So much for “sticking it to Sound Transit”: Tim Eyman appears ready to abandon I-947, says he’ll push for ban on taxing wealth
Tim Eyman signaled today that he’s ready to abandon his current initiative to defund Sound Transit and pivot to hawking a new scheme that would prohibit Washington from taxing wealth, thereby keeping the state’s tax code permanently upside down.
At an appearance in Olympia, Eyman told the Northwest Progressive Institute and KOMO 4 News (the only organizations that sent people to witness his “huge announcement”) that he wants to ban the state and all local governments from levying any kind of income tax or capital gains tax, which Eyman claims are one and the same.
In fact, they are not. Governor Jay Inslee’s proposed capital gains tax — which 57% of Washingtonians surveyed for NPI support — is an excise tax, not a tax on income. If excise taxes fall under the definition of income taxes, then all taxes levied by the State of Washington could be considered income taxes, since people pay them out of their income.
Eyman says he’ll try to qualify the ban as an initiative to the people for 2018. He did not say anything about the status of the anti-Sound Transit initiative he has been hawking for the last five months until KOMO’s Keith Eldridge, prompted by NPI, asked Eyman to take off his jacket and go back on camera to answer questions about the signature drive.
Asked if I-947 would garner enough signatures by the end of the month to qualify, Eyman would only say that the drive had gone well so far and that the measure’s fate was in the hands of his followers, who have three weeks to return petitions. That response suggests Eyman is not anywhere near the threshold required to qualify an initiative.
Last week, the De-Escalate Washington campaign — which is also trying to get an initiative qualified to the 2018 Legislature — announced that it has collected 281,000 signatures so far, which is more the minimum required, but not enough to offset invalid or duplicate signatures. To ensure I-940 qualifies, De-Escalate Washington is aiming to gather a total of 350,000 signatures. The coalition, which NPI has endorsed, is marshaling its supporters for a very visible final push ahead of the December 29th deadline.
Given that the next three weeks are the home stretch of the signature gathering season for initiatives to the Legislature, there’s no reason for Eyman to jump ahead and announce his plans for the new year early. That is, unless he has an expectation of I-947 not qualifying and wants to shift gears before he’s forced to acknowledge I-947’s demise.
If I-947 implodes by month’s end, it will be Eyman’s fifth consecutive failure to qualify a measure he had “announced” he was doing. Here is the history:
- In November of 2015, Eyman said he would qualify an initiative would that attach a one-year expiration date to future revenue increases, unless such an increase received a two-thirds vote in the Legislature or a vote of the people. But Eyman neglected to ever actually launch a campaign for said initiative.
- In February of 2016, Eyman said he would qualify an initiative to the people for 2016 (I-1421) that would slash vehicle fees. It never got off the ground.
- In June of 2016, Eyman said he would again try to slash vehicle fees by qualifying I-869 as an initiative to the Legislature for 2017, which he branded as “We Love Our Cars”. But it went nowhere, and Eyman quietly abandoned it.
- In January of 2017, Eyman said he would qualify I-1550 as an initiative to the people for 2017. I-1550 attempted to slash property taxes. That also came to nothing.
“As most Washingtonians are aware, Tim Eyman has made a career out of selling destructive initiatives. For years, his initiative factory represented a tangible threat to Washington’s future. But nowadays, Eyman is a seller of fakes. The con artist is now a counterfeiter,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to Eyman for nearly sixteen years.
“We can see a pattern at work here: Every five or six months, Eyman announces a new initiative that he claims will be wildly popular and deeply impactful. Then, five or six months later, he simply starts over and begins hawking something else.”
“Eyman seems to have shamelessly embraced the mantra of ‘fake it till you make it’. So he keeps announcing initiatives he knows he doesn’t have the ability to get on the ballot in the hopes that one of them will appeal to a potential wealthy benefactor.”
“But he keeps striking out. It remains to be seen if Eyman’s proposed wealth tax ban will be any different. If the benefactors are on board, then we are ready to organize a strong and effective opposition coalition to defeat this ban. And if not, then we will be more than happy to add another entry to Tim Eyman’s Failure Chart next July.”