November 14th, 2018
NPI’s Permanent Defense shifting into higher gear to protect transit funding from I-976
With the 2018 midterm elections disappearing into the rearview mirror and the 2019 legislative session approaching, the Northwest Progressive Institute’s Permanent Defense project will accelerate its efforts to organize a strong, diverse opposition coalition to Tim Eyman’s I-976, NPI founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve said today.
I-976 is Eyman’s latest attempt to gut funding for transportation — especially transit and freight mobility projects — at the city, regional, and state level. It attempts to choke off multiple revenue streams that can be used for multimodal projects, including Sound Transit’s voter-approved MVET, which the agency has already bonded against in order to fund light rail extensions to the north, south, east, and west.
Eyman has been trying for three years to force a vote on a scheme like I-976, but he has repeatedly failed due to a lack of money. The last Eyman initiative to qualify for the statewide ballot was I-1366 in 2015. Since then, Eyman has launched a long list of fake initiatives that he didn’t have resources to qualify.
To fund his comeback, Eyman said this spring he would cash out his retirement account, using the money to hire signature gatherers to fill I-976 petitions. He subsequently reported payments of $500,000 to his campaign coffers from himself. However, since Eyman has a long history of lying, we don’t know where that money really came from.
PDC reports have Eyman’s name on them as the contributor. However, if Eyman drained his retirement account to fund I-976 signature gathering and then replenished it with a gift from a wealthy benefactor wishing to be shielded from being associated with Eyman, that would make Eyman guilty of concealment.
Should I-976 qualify as an initiative to the Legislature, the House and Senate would have three options: adopt it, ignore it, or send it to the ballot with an alternative.
“Washington is a fast-growing state that needs a robust, multimodal transportation system to be successful,” said Villeneuve. “Tim Eyman’s I-976 threatens essential projects across our state that will make our communities more livable, including a large number of voter-approved transit projects in Central Puget Sound that he despises.”
“It is important for voters to understand that I-976 wouldn’t just hurt Sound Transit and wouldn’t merely affect light rail. Implementation of I-976 would cause catastrophic damage in every part of Washington — from small towns like Clarkston, East Wenatchee, and Battle Ground to large cities like Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett.”
“Thankfully, NPI now has almost seventeen years of experience organizing against destructive Tim Eyman initiatives. We will put all of that to work to ensure that I-976 receives the vigorous, effective opposition that it deserves now and throughout 2019.”
NPI invites people and organizations who care about Washington’s future to join the NO on I-976 Coalition and take a position opposing this incredibly destructive measure. More information is available at no976.org.