Category Archives: Rethinking and Reframing

Tim Eyman rips state budget he previously called a “mega victory for taxpayers”

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

This week, disgraced initiative promoter and serial public disclosure violator Tim Eyman appeared in front of the Snohomish County Council to assail Executive Dave Somers for proposing a modest property tax increase that would ensure the fast-growing county can meet its public safety needs. (The additional revenue Somers is seeking would avert cuts to law enforcement while also allowing five more sheriff’s deputies to be hired.)

During his remarks — a portion of which were aired on KIRO’s evening newscast — Eyman harshly denounced the Washington State Legislature for having raised property taxes on Snohomish County homeowners like him, telling the Council:

Taxpayers have been ravaged by Sound Transit and ST3. Skyrocketing car tab taxes, highest in the nation sales taxes, plus a massive new property tax. All of you have been hearing about the sticker shock from ST3. And then, just a few months later, just as taxpayers were trying to catch their breath, those taxpayers got ravaged by this year’s Legislature that compounded ST3’s burden by dramatically raising property taxes THROUGH THE ROOF.

Eyman has been railing all year against ST3, even though it was handily approved by voters in last November’s presidential election. But it wasn’t so long ago that Eyman was describing the agreement reached by legislators to keep state government open and steer more revenue into Washington’s public schools as “a mega victory for taxpayers”.

Here’s a longer excerpt from Eyman’s June 29th email:

The final budget deal is a mega-victory for taxpayers.

With tax-obsessed Jay Inslee as Governor and tax-salivating Democrats in charge of the House, our legislative successes aren’t measured by what proposals are passed but are instead measured by what proposals are blocked.  In this case, in the face of non-stop pressure by Inslee and the Dems to impose an income tax, capital gains tax, carbon tax, and business taxes, we worked really hard over the past six months and our efforts paid off: the GOP stopped them all.

Later on in the email, Eyman gave a nod of approval to the property tax increase that Senate Republicans insisted on as the budget’s revenue mechanism, saying: “The final watered-down levy swap lowers property taxes for most property owners.”

At no point in his email did Eyman criticize the Senate Republicans for having struck a deal with Democrats that resulted in higher property taxes for urban and suburban Washingtonians — even though he had harshly warned them not to pursue such a course of action just two years prior, during the 2015 legislative session.

In fact, at the end of his June 29th commentary, Eyman called the budget a victory for taxpayers a second time: “So don’t just look at what’s included, look at what’s excluded to recognize the tremendous victory that taxpayers scored with this final budget deal.”

That was then. Summer has now given way to autumn, and Tim Eyman has a new position to go with the new season. What was previously a “mega victory for taxpayers” and a “tremendous victory that taxpayers scored” has somehow, inexplicably, morphed into a defeat… of the worst kind. Taxpayers “got ravaged by this year’s Legislature”, Eyman now says, declaring that property taxes have gone “through the roof”.

Apparently the levy swap wasn’t “watered down” after all.

And apparently it doesn’t matter that some Washingtonians are getting their property taxes cut because others will be seeing an increase… including Eyman, who resides in Mukilteo in the safely Democratic 21st Legislative District.

In addition to blasting the Legislature’s budget in front of the Snohomish County Council, Eyman is urging his followers and anyone who will listen to him to participate in his push polls (the “advisory votes”) by voting “Repealed” to signify their displeasure with the budget.

“Tell next year’s Legislature that you’re against them raising taxes by voting ‘REJECT’ on Tax Advisory Votes 16, 17, and 18 on the November statewide ballot,” Eyman wrote in an October 27th email, forgetting that his Initiative 960 actually dictates that the wording of the two choices in the push polls be “REPEALED” and “MAINTAINED” — as opposed to the more neutral and widely used dichotomy of APPROVED/REJECTED.

Unlike Tim Eyman, state lawmakers and local leaders like Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers have a responsibility to govern. Most of them understand a truth Eyman consistently refuses to acknowledge: Our state and its many vibrant communities could not function or even exist without taxes.

Taxes pay for police and fire departments, emergency medical response, schools, colleges, and universities, parks, pools, hospitals, roads, bridges, mass transit, water and sewer infrastructure, ports, courts, and countless other public services.

As our state’s population grows and as new neighborhoods are developed, the cost of public services goes up. And because we have an upside down tax code, state revenue isn’t keeping pace with the economic growth we’re experiencing. That’s hurting the ability of local governments and state agencies to meet the needs of the people.

Executive Somers recognizes that a growing county like Snohomish can’t afford to ignore the people’s needs. It’s why he’s proposed a modest property tax increase as part of his budget. But what Snohomish County and every jurisdiction across Washington really need is for the Legislature to pass legislation implementing progressive tax reform.

Local governments only have the options that state government gives them. If we start taking serious, meaningful steps to fix our upside down tax code, everyone will benefit.

Everyone, that is, except Tim Eyman. Tim needs our tax code to stay broken so that there will always be an appetite for his initiative factory’s destructive anti-tax initiatives. If lawmakers begin taking steps to make our tax code more equitable and just, that might just put the kibosh on Eyman’s already flailing business.

Three important things to know about Tim Eyman’s Initiative 947

Ballot WatchdoggingRethinking and ReframingThreat Analysis

1. Initiative 947 is really about gutting Sound Transit, not lowering vehicle fees

Just as with Initiative 776 in 2002, the main intent of I-947 is not actually to lower vehicle fees, it’s to sabotage the work of Sound Transit.

As far as Eyman is concerned, the lower vehicle fees are a welcome side effect. Eyman’s real aim is to nullify the 2016 Sound Transit 3 vote. And he’s now starting to openly admit that with his new slogan: “Let’s stick it to Sound Transit!”

Eyman has been nursing a deep grudge against Sound Transit for years, as is evident from his email today in which he rants at length against the agency, even falsely accusing it of having every law firm around on its payroll.

Eyman has previously contended that “voters are smart” and that the typical voter is perfectly capable of listening to the arguments made by ballot measure proponents and opponents, then making up their minds on their own. But Eyman clearly doesn’t believe that himself, as he is once again trying to overturn their will. Every time you get the chance, ask Eyman, “Why are you trying to overturn the will of the voters?”

Read more about Eyman’s obsession with taking out Sound Transit and how it inspired the creation of NPI’s Permanent Defense project — and later NPI itself.

2.  Eyman is trying to raise money for I-947 while also trying to raise $600,000 to pay legal bills

The cost of getting on the ballot exclusively with hired help runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even more money is needed when the initiative sponsor wants to arrange to receive illegal kickbacks from the company providing the signatures.

Those kickbacks and other serious public disclosure law violations are the basis for four — yes, four — lawsuits filed by the State of Washington against Tim Eyman.

Like his idol Donald Trump, Eyman is claiming to be the victim of a “witch hunt”. He recently sent out an appeal for money via the United States Postal Service, writing, “I need help, a lot of help…. For the past five years, the AG has been investigating me and it has been incredibly stressful, burdensome, and costly to me and my family.”

“I implore you. Please help me get through this,” Eyman adds.

He says his goal is to raise $600,000 for his legal defense — about what a signature drive would cost minus the kickbacks Eyman has received in the past. Eyman says he has seeded his own legal defense fund by taking out a loan against his house.

How is Eyman going to manage to raise over half a million for a new initiative at the same time he’s trying to raise over half a million for his legal defense? That’s a lot to ask, even of his wealthy benefactors, who have been less and less generous since 2015.

3. Initiative 947 is actually Eyman’s sixth attempt to slash vehicle fees, not his third

Some of the accounts of Tim Eyman’s “announcement” from yesterday have portrayed Initiative 947 as Eyman’s third attempt to set vehicle fees at thirty dollars. It is actually Eyman’s sixth attempt to do so. Eyman doesn’t like talking about his many failures, which is why he painted an incomplete picture yesterday.

Here’s a rundown of the prior initiatives:

I-695, 1999: Voted on in November of 1999. Gutted the statewide motor vehicle excise tax, eviscerating funding for ferries, roads, bridges, transit, and a host of other local public services. Declared unconstitutional by the courts; partially reinstated by the Legislature. Read more about the impacts of I-695.

I-776, 2002: Voted on in November of 2002. Repealed local motor vehicle excise taxes in King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Douglas counties and also revoked Sound Transit’s authority to collect vehicle fees. I-776 ended up not applying to Sound Transit because the vehicle fees were used as the basis for bond sales. Read more about the impacts of I-776.

I-917, 2006: Failed to qualify to the 2006 ballot. Using Michael Dunmire’s money, Tim Eyman hired petition crews to gather signatures for I-917, but he didn’t buy enough to qualify the measure. It took the Secretary of State the rest of the summer to check all of the I-917 signatures. In September of 2006, the office announced I-917 had not qualified for the ballot. Read more about the spectacular collapse of I-917.

I-1421, 2016: Failed to qualify to last year’s ballot. In February of 2016, Tim Eyman made a similar announcement to the one he made yesterday, saying the time was ripe for another initiative to slash vehicle fees. He summoned reporters to a morning press conference, made a big show of being the first to sign, and then send out a flurry of fundraising emails. But I-1421 didn’t go anywhere. It turned out there wasn’t much interest. Only a few months later, Eyman was forced to acknowledge I-1421 had been abandoned.

I-869, 2016: Failed to qualify as an initiative to the 2017 Legislature. After the failure of I-1421, Eyman started over with a clone, I-869, rebranding the effort as “We Love Our Cars”. But it was no more successful than I-1421. In December of 2016, it died a quiet death, without so much as passing obituary from Eyman.

Given that Eyman’s last three attempts to qualify an initiative slashing vehicle fees have ended in failure, we should all be skeptical that I-947 is going anywhere until Tim Eyman shows us the commitments from his wealthy benefactors. Eyman has not gotten on the ballot with mostly volunteer labor since 1999. His initiative factory relies on big money to function — it’s not a grassroots operation. Without sizable commitments from the likes of Kemper Freeman, Jr., Kenneth Fisher, or Clyde Holland, Eyman will not be able to get a signature drive going for I-947.

When is Tim Eyman going to stop asking his followers to donate to an initiative he knows is dead?

Eye on Money: DevelopmentsRethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Eyman’s initiative factory has now itself become a deception. This is the fourth consecutive initiative that Eyman has committed to qualifying to the ballot that didn’t go anywhere. The money Eyman is raising through these emails is being used not to run a signature drive for I-1550, but to cover living expenses and overhead.

Keep reading

Senate Republicans want to raise most Washingtonians’ property taxes — and Tim Eyman is okay with that

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Late this morning, former initiative promoter (and now Republican lobbyist) Tim Eyman sent out his latest electronic screed, in which he again attacked House Democrats for proposing a budget that would levy a capital gains excise tax and close tax exemptions that are no longer in the public interest to fund K-12 education.

“Democrats are constantly searching for the next white whale of taxes,” Eyman ranted. “But their tax appetite is insatiable. There’s simply not enough money in the world to satisfy them. Seriously, how much is enough? Would a sales tax rate of 15% satisfy them? If property taxes were doubled tomorrow, would they finally shut up? No.”

Washington actually ranks ranks below most other states with respect to state and local tax obligations. But it’s no secret that our upside tax code is the most regressive in the nation. That’s why Governor Inslee and House Democrats declined to propose increasing the state sales tax in their budgets. Nor are they proposing to increase property taxes.

But Senate Republicans are.

Why is Tim Eyman shaking his fist at House Democrats, when it’s Senate Republicans who are pushing to raise property taxes on all but a handful of Washingtonians?

A staff analysis by the nonpartisan House Office of Program Research finds that taxpayers in all but three of Washington’s two hundred and ninety five school districts would see noticeable increases in their property taxes under the Senate Republicans’ levy swipe scheme. However, despite the property tax increases, total funding per student would be nowhere close to the levels that the House Democratic budget would fund.

“The average funding increase per student in School Year 2020-21 (when both plans would be fully implemented) would be $2,926 under the Democratic plan and only $1,913 under the Republican plan,” House Democrats contend.

“Total net new funding statewide over the next four school years would be $8.5 billion under the Democratic plan, and only $4.5 billion under the Republican plan.”

House Democrats have proposed a budget that bolsters the state’s investment in its schools without raising sales or property taxes, which Eyman declared today are too high. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, have proposed a budget that raises property taxes on most Washingtonians while leaving our schools with less money. What a scam!

Two years ago, when Senate Republicans proposed a similar scheme, Eyman went ballistic and called on Governor Jay Inslee to save the day. Said Eyman on April 23rd, 2015:

RE: Senate Republicans propose massive property tax hike — will Inslee save the day?

Candidate Inslee ridiculed the so-called “property tax levy swap.” He repeatedly called it a “gimmick”. He said it was “a classic maneuver by politicians in Olympia.” He said it was a “shell game” that raised taxes on nearly half of all property tax payers. He tore into it with vigor and verve. He was emphatic. He was unambiguous.

The people elected a man who adamantly opposed this.

Will Governor Inslee come riding to the rescue when it comes to the Senate Republicans’ bill (Senate Bill 6109) which does exactly what he ridiculed? In today’s Tacoma News Tribune, they report the Republicans’ bill “would raise property taxes in more than 40 percent of Washington’s school districts.”

Inslee despised it as a candidate, will he stop it as Governor? Can we count on him to protect us from this massive property tax hike?

Fast forward two years, and Eyman’s singing a completely different tune.

He’s offered nothing but praise for the Senate Republicans’ levy swipe scheme, calling it “sustainable” and “a serious budget”. Those are words that could be used to describe the fiscally responsible House Democratic budget, but Eyman can’t stomach that proposal because it would require his wealthy benefactors (like Clyde Holland and Kenneth Fisher) to pay more in dues to our state to support our schools through a capital gains excise tax.

Even though Fisher and Holland have left Eyman high and dry for the second year in a row (without money from benefactors like them, Eyman can’t get on this year’s ballot), he’s still determined to go to the mat to defend their interests.

Eyman was willing two years ago to openly criticize his own party for proposing to increase property taxes as part of its response to the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision. He was vocally opposed. But not anymore. In the span of two years, Eyman went from ardent levy swipe critic to enthusiastic booster.

Who could have imagined that one day, Tim Eyman would be on the record in support of legislation that increases property taxes on most Washingtonians?

These are strange times, indeed.

It’s especially ironic given that Eyman aspires to be on the 2017 ballot with an initiative that would dramatically cut property taxes.

But that initiative, I-1550, isn’t going anywhere… because Eyman’s wealthy benefactors have refused to provide the cash Eyman would need to finance a signature drive.

With Eyman’s initiative factory idle, the state’s most notorious initiative pitchman is now just a Republican lobbyist parroting the party line.

The invective and hyperbole in Eyman’s multiweekly emails is still largely the same, but it’s no longer aimed generally at any elected representatives who dare to suggest an increase in revenue to fund vital public services. Instead, it’s aimed solely at Democrats.

What a boon for Senate Republicans. Two years ago, Eyman was unleashing his ire (and that of his shrinking base) on them for proposing an increase in property taxes. Now, they get a pass from him while Democrats get a double helping of his invective. Such a deal!

Kelly Herron demands that right wing group behind anti-trans initiative stop using her story in fundraising pitches

Rethinking and Reframing

Last week, marathoner Kelly Herron’s morning run turned into a nightmare when she was assaulted in Golden Gardens Park. As she recounted on Instagram:

Four miles into my long run Sunday afternoon, I stopped to use the restroom and was assaulted by a man hiding in a stall. I fought for my life […] clawing his face, punching back, and desperately trying to escape his grip- never giving up. I was able to lock him in the bathroom until police arrived. Thankfully I just took a self-defense class offered at my work and utilized all of it. My face is stitched, my body is bruised, but my spirit is intact.

After local media outlets picked up Kelly’s story, the fanatics trying to qualify Initiative 1552 to the ballot took notice and figured they could exploit what happened to Kelly to prey on the fears of gullible Washingtonians.

They sent out an email titled “Bathroom attack in Seattle” exhorting people to donate money and collect signatures to qualify I-1552 to the ballot. I-1552, a do-over of last year’s failed I-1515, would repeal rules passed by the Human Rights Commission that empower transgender individuals to use public washrooms and toilets consistent with their gender identity. It’s an awful, discriminatory measure that is opposed by a broad and diverse coalition of businesses, nonprofits, civic organizations, and individuals.

When Kelly found out that I-1552 communications director Kaeley Triller Haver and her associates were using her story in an attempt to bolster their campaign, she was incensed, and is now demanding that they cease doing so and refund any contributions they received from their “Bathroom attack in Seattle” appeal. Kelly writes:

Last week I successfully defended myself against a violent sexual assault in a public restroom at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle […] But I’m more upset now than I have been all week after seeing that a political group is using my face, my name and my story to fundraise for I-1552, a ballot initiative that deliberately targets and harms transgender people – including friends whom I respect.

To the people behind I-1552, I say “not today, [expletive].” I refuse to allow anyone to use me and my horrific sexual assault to cause harm and discrimination to others.

All of us, including transgender people, are concerned about safety in restrooms or any place where we’re isolated and alone. But the fact is I-1552 would not have done one thing to prevent the attack on me. It’s already illegal to enter a restroom or locker room to harm someone, period.

I-1552’s backers say it is supposed to protect women and children from attack, but this initiative is an invitation for abuse and harassment because under this law men could demand to see a woman’s ID with her name and home address, or otherwise force her to prove her gender before allowing her to enter a public restroom.

I-1552’s backers use fear mongering to justify singling out one group, transgender people, for discrimination. I strongly oppose their efforts to repeal Washington State’s decade-old protections against discrimination for our transgender friends, family and co-workers. I demand they immediately refund any money raised using my image, my name, and my story, and I demand Just Want Privacy immediately issue a public retraction.

We salute Kelly for her tremendous courage — both in telling her story after being attacked and for publicly repudiating the I-1552 campaign after they used her story as the basis for fundraising pitches for their discriminatory initiative. If Kaeley Triller Haver and her associates have any respect for Kelly, they’ll accede to her demands — promptly.

I-695’s devastating impact is no laughing matter

Election PostmortemRethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Irked by a letter to the editor published by The Herald of Everett, initiative profiteer Tim Eyman this morning sent out an email to his followers ridiculing elected representatives and civic leaders over their opposition to I-695 (on the ballot in November of 1999), which wiped out billions of dollars in funding for public services following its implementation by the Legislature in 2000.

“[F]or nearly a decade, our initiative was blamed for most everything. ‘Heavy rainfall in Seattle caused by I-695’ — ‘I-695 spurs riots in LA’ — ‘Earthquake in East Timor exacerbated by I-695’. Our opponents couldn’t get enough of it. But eventually, their silliness eventually dissipated,” Eyman wrote in his email.

To NPI’s knowledge, no one opposed to I-695 has blamed it for out-of-state civil unrest, bad weather, or earthquakes abroad. However, Eyman’s I-695 has been blamed — and deservedly so — for having made our tax code more regressive and weakened the vital public services which our tax system funds.

The devastating impacts of I-695 are no laughing matter, nor were they overstated by Lynnwood’s Jerry Fraser in his letter to the editor.

Before I-695 was reinstated by Governor Gary Locke and lawmakers, the state-level MVET was projected to bring in more than one and half billion dollars during the 2001-2003 biennium, as noted by the Office of Financial Management (OFM) in its 1999 fiscal impact statement:

In the aggregate, I-695 would reduce motor vehicle taxes and fees by up to $1.1 billion in the 1999-01 Biennium and by up to $1.7 billion in the 2001-03 Biennium… As detailed on Table 1, the initiative would eliminate up to $1.1 billion in state revenues in the 1999-01 Biennium and up to $1.7 billion in the 2001-03 Biennium, which currently support transportation, criminal justice, public health, and other programs.  It also repeals the statutory method for the valuation of vehicles, as well as the distribution formulas for MVET revenue.

OFM’s analysis went on to offer a list of major public services funded by the state MVET:

  • Local transit districts
  • County public health account
  • Distressed county assistance account
  • Ferry capital construction account
  • Ferry operations account
  • Motor vehicle fund
  • Transportation fund
  • City & county sales tax equalization
  • Municipal & county criminal justice

Prior to its repeal, about 47% of the statewide MVET went to state transportation, while 29% went to local transit agencies and 24% went to local governments.

Below is a compendium of four fact sheets documenting the impact that I-695 was projected to have on a selection of county and city governments throughout the state:

Passage of Tim Eyman’s I-695, and the Legislature’s subsequent decision to reinstate it after it was struck down by the State Supreme Court in the ATU case had huge ramifications (like delayed/lost bond sales), and ushered in an era of backfilling at all levels of government that went on for years.

“We’re not even close to filling the holes,” State Representative Hans Dunshee told The Seattle Times a few months after the 1999 general election. “The largest impacts of I-695 will be unaddressed. That’s going to take more working and more thinking.”

Times editors felt the fallout from I-695 was so significant and newsworthy that they established a special section on seattletimes.com to chronicle developments.

To replace the sudden, giant funding loss resulting from I-695, state agencies and local governments across Washington were forced to resort to drastic emergency measures.

Washington State Ferries was forced to hike fares dramatically (because funding for operations decreased by 58% and capital funding decreased by 70%).

The City of Mountlake Terrace stopped providing animal control.

Washington State University instructed its extension offices to begin preparing for massive budget cuts.

And the laudable goal of reducing class size and putting more money into schools fell by the wayside as the Legislature struggled to backfill the loss of MVET money.

In some cases, voters were asked to approve tax increases to replace lost funding.

In Longview, voters were asked to approve a flood control levy (and they said yes). The success of the levy mitigated one problem, but basic and essential public services still took a big hit in a Longview. The Daily News reported on November 16th, 2000:

The loss of motor vehicle excise taxes with last year’s passage of Initiative 695 hit Longview hard, and will reduce city revenue by about $1.4 million in 2001-2002, [Longview finance director Kurt] Sacha said. All city departments took cuts, and Longview police lost five officer positions in 2000.

King County Metro also went to the voters to gain back lost funding (and again, the voters said yes). Unfortunately, in Metro’s case, the mechanism the Legislature came up with to allow the agency to backfill from I-695 was an increase in its sales tax authority.

So even though the voters said yes to Metro’s request, the dot-com bust wiped out the projected revenue, as this 2010 King County Metro “System Overview” presentation explained on Slide 19 (“Funding Issues”):

  • 1999: I-695 approved. Metro’s funding reduced by $110 million per year (29% of budget)
  • 2000: Transit sales tax authority raised by Legislature to 0.9 percent
  • 2000: 0.2 percent Metro sales tax approved
  • 2000: Dot com bust: The projected sales tax growth to fund most of the service adds in the plan is lost
  • Plan became largely unfunded, but included the revised allocation policy of “40-40-20

In Snohomish County, Community Transit initially responded to I-695 by laying off dozens off bus drivers. Here’s how the Seattle Times reported it:

You’re a mean one, Mr. Eyman. All the bus drivers in Whoville say so.

Whoville, of course, is where the Grinch stole Christmas. And Community Transit (CT) drivers in Snohomish County who received layoff notices on the eve of the holidays want everyone to know that Initiative 695 sponsor Tim Eyman is their Grinch.

They gathered yesterday at the Labor Temple here to tell how Eyman – and the state’s voters – took their holiday cheer.

Pink slips were handed to 90 CT drivers and other employees earlier this month, announcing layoffs effective Feb. 6. Thirty other employees will be cut from full- to part-time status. The move was made in response to a projected loss of $18.7 million, 30 percent of CT’s budget next year.

Community Transit subsequently reversed some cuts to bus service using temporary funding. County leaders warned residents at the time that the service restorations might not be permanent. And sure enough, they weren’t. Sunday service went away that same year. It was brought back in 2002, then indefinitely suspended again in 2010 along with paratransit for disabled Snohomish County residents.

Five long years went by before Community Transit brought back Sunday service.

The motor vehicle excise tax used to be a stable revenue source that transit agencies could count on. After the statewide MVET was eviscerated, transit agencies became heavily dependent on sales taxes. As anyone with a basic understanding of public finance knows, the sales tax yields less revenue during economic downturns. Downturns, however, are precisely when many people rely on public services the most.

Community Transit, Metro, Sound Transit, and other transit providers will be facing the same predicaments they’ve grappled with in the past as soon as another recession occurs. Sales tax funding will go down, and that will jeopardize essential service that people rely on.

This is one of the many long-term consequences of I-695 that Tim Eyman never wants to talk about. He may not ride the bus, but hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians do. To them, the prospect of not being able to get to their job on Sunday, or utilize paratransit service to participate in community functions, is very scary.

Tim Eyman can pretend the real and serious consequences of I-695 don’t exist, but neither we nor our elected representatives can afford to live in his fantasyland.

Washington is home to more than seven million people. By working together and pooling our resources, there is much we can accomplish. To move forward and raise our quality of life, it’s imperative that we reject Tim Eyman’s destructive agenda and reaffirm that we believe in the values that Washington was founded on. We call upon our elected representatives at all levels to work with us to undo the harm caused by Eyman’s past initiatives as well as defeat any new schemes that Eyman comes up with.

NPI/Permanent Defense founder Andrew Villeneuve files Majority Vote Protection Initiative

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

This morning, at the Secretary of State’s office in Olympia, Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve filed a new statewide initiative, titled the Majority Vote Protection Act. The intent of the initiative is to ensure that going forward, statewide initiatives and referenda only pass if an absolute majority of the state’s registered voters weigh in on them.

Additionally, the Majority Vote Protection Act stipulates that any initiative that attempts to impose any supermajority vote requirement on the Legislature (whether three-fifths, two-thirds, three-fourths, or some other threshold) must pass by the exact same supermajority of the voters, or else it will be declared failed.

“The team at the Northwest Progressive Institute is very excited about defending our Constitution’s balance of majority rule and minority rights with the Majority Vote Protection Act,” said NPI’s Villeneuve.

“This is the very first draft of this initiative, and we look forward to refining and improving it in response to the feedback we receive from our supporters, the public, and the press. We feel strongly that the time has come to change state law to ensure that our cherished tradition of majority rule is protected.”

“Our Constitution requires that bills in the Legislature pass by an absolute majority, but our minimum threshold for passage of initiatives and referenda is merely a majority of whoever turns out to vote. That doesn’t make any sense.”

“Under the lax rules of our current system, a small fraction of the state’s electorate can impose laws on everybody else in an election with poor turnout. That is precisely what’s happening right now with Tim Eyman’s hostage-taking I-1366.”

“As of this morning, turnout in Washington’s 2015 general election stands at a measly 38.28%, with almost no ballots left to count. This is the worst general election turnout since the state began permanent voter registration in the 1930s. A little more than half of the voters who participated in this year’s election voted for I-1366, while slightly less than half voted against I-1366. As Seattle Times columnist Ron Judd astutely pointed out in his column The Wrap earlier this month, this means that I-1366 has the support of less than twenty percent of the electorate.”

“A system of government that permits a few to make decisions for the many is not a true democracy,” Villeneuve said. “The first draft of our Majority Vote Protection Act would amend the statute governing the canvass of statewide ballot measures to require that all initiatives and referenda be voted on by at least an absolute majority of registered voters in order to be declared passed. It would also amend the same statute to stop the initiative process from being used to subvert majority rule by requiring that any initiative which contains some incarnation of a supermajority vote requirement to pass by its own supermajority vote requirement — or else be declared failed.”

NPI welcomes feedback on the Majority Vote Protection Act. Questions and comments pertaining to the new initiative draft may be submitted to NPI through Permanent Defense’s contact form.

Statement on the early 2015 general election returns

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Early returns tonight indicate that Washington voters are passing Tim Eyman’s hostage-taking I-1366, albeit not by a large margin. Northwest Progressive Institute founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve released the following statement after analyzing the initial results.

“Though these early results are disappointing, our resolve to protect our Constitution and our common wealth from the destructive harm of initiatives like I-1366 has never been stronger. In partnership with many other organizations committed to the defense of Washington’s values, we waged the best campaign against I-1366 that we could with modest resources.”

“We are clearly doing much, much better than we did against I-1185 in 2012 or I-1053 in 2010, and that is very gratifying. We will continue to keep an eye on the results. If late voters break against the initiative, we should see the margin tighten.”

“If I-1366 does ultimately pass, we will continue to work to defeat it in the courts. I-1366 is blatantly unconstitutional and completely beyond the scope of the initiative power, as Judge Dean Lum ruled back in August. It deserves to be buried in the graveyard of Washington state politics.”

“We are heartened to see that voters in Seattle and Snohomish County are voting to invest in road maintenance, better sidewalks, and improved transit tonight. Contrary to what Tim Eyman claims, Washingtonians are willing to tax themselves to pay for vital public services. They want a government that is effective and works for them.”

“Our research shows that voters want better choices. A recent survey conducted by Public Policy Polling for NPI shows 54% of likely 2015 voters support a capital gains tax on high earners in Washington, with 43% of respondents saying they ‘strongly support’ the idea. Voters are hungry for progressive tax reform, but I-1366 would take us in the wrong direction.”

“We’re not happy with tonight’s early results, but we’re not discouraged. At NPI, we’re in this fight for the long haul. We always have been. We will continue the fight to defend Washington’s common wealth and Constitution in the weeks, months, and years ahead. The last thing our state needs is to be paralyzed by D.C.-style gridlock, imported from our nation’s capital by Tim Eyman and his wealthy benefactors.”

For the record, Tim Eyman’s “jaw-dropping” tax hikes figure is a big fake

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

For the past few weeks, Tim Eyman has been peppering the emails he sends to his followers and to the mass media with references to a $17.5 billion figure — the amount Eyman claims that taxes were increased by the Washington State Legislature in 2015. This number has begun showing up in just about every message that Eyman sends. Here are some examples (note that this is not an exhaustive list, but does contain most of the various permutations we could find):

  • Eyman, September 2nd, 2015: “Certainly the $17.5 billion in higher taxes imposed by this year’s Legislature vividly illustrates why I-1366 is necessary.”
  • Eyman, September 9th, 2015: “[L]ike this year’s session without the 2/3: this year they raised taxes a jaw-dropping $17.5 billion.”
  • Eyman, September 11th, 2015: “This year’s Legislature raised taxes a jaw-dropping $17.5 billion because last year’s tax initiative didn’t succeed.”
  • Eyman, September 14th, 2015: ” This year’s Legislature raised taxes a jaw-dropping $17.5 billion.”
  • Eyman, September 18th, 2015: “This year was different: the 2015 Legislature raised taxes a jaw-dropping $17.5 billion.”
  • Eyman, September 24th, 2015: “Olympia raised taxes a jaw-dropping $17.5 billion this session.”
  • Eyman, October 4th, 2015: “This year’s Legislature raised taxes a jaw-dropping $17.5 billion.”
  • Eyman, October 16th, 2015: “Olympia raised taxes a jaw-dropping $17.5 billion this year…”
  • Eyman, October 20th, 2015: “He [Inslee] was the biggest cheerleader for the jaw-dropping $17.5 billion in tax hikes this session.”
  • Eyman, October 26th, 2015 (just yesterday): “[A]ll we’re hearing about from politicians is the supposed necessity of $17.5 billion in additional taxes imposed over the next 10 years for more government spending (which is on top of the jaw-dropping $17.5 billion in higher taxes from this year’s legislative session).”

Eyman never cites any source for this number, and that’s probably because our research shows it’s a fabricated figure with no basis in fact.

The 2015 Washington State Legislature did vote to raise revenue several times — and, it should be noted, on a bipartisan basis! — but the totals of those increases do not sum to $17.5 billion, not even projected out over ten years.

Whenever the Legislature considers a bill that would increase tax revenue, Tim Eyman’s I-960 (from 2007) requires the Office of Financial Management to flag the bill and calculate, over ten years, the amount of revenue that would be increased.

If the bill ultimately becomes law, Eyman’s I-960 further requires that there be an “advisory vote” on it the following November. These unconstitutional “advisory votes” (which are really akin to push polls because they ask loaded questions) have been appearing on our ballots every year since 2012. This year, there were four bills that increased tax revenue, and so became the subject of “advisory votes”:

We can calculate how much the Legislature increased taxes in 2015 by looking at the estimated fiscal impact of these four bills. Through the end of 2017, it is as follows:

  • ESHB 1449: $5,592,000
  • 2SSB 5052: $551,000
  • 2ESSB 5987: $645,188,840
  • ESSB 6138: $162,461,000

Total Through 2017: $813,792,840

If the estimates are correct, by the end of 2017, the state will collect about $813 million in additional tax revenue as a result of bills passed in the 2015 long session and subsequent special sessions, with the vast majority (over three fourths) going to transportation projects. That’s a far cry from $17.5 billion – Eyman’s phony figure.

Again, as mentioned, we can’t even replicate Eyman’s phony figure by stretching out the amount of the revenue increases over ten years, which is well beyond the period of time for which the Legislature has budgeted.

  • Ten-year total for ESHB 1449: $29,072,000
  • Ten-year total for 2SSB 5052: $4,061,000
  • Ten-year total for 2ESSB 5987: $5,221,111,220
  • Ten-year total for ESSB 6138: $1,448,570,000

Total Through 2025: $6,702,814,220.00

These ten-year totals sum to $6.7 billion, not $17.5 billion.

As we have documented, Tim Eyman has been throwing around this $17.5 billion figure for weeks, as if it is unquestioned fact. But it’s actually a fabricated number.

We arrived at the figures in this analysis by doing some simple arithmetic and showing our work, which is a basic principle of mathematics taught and emphasized to Washington’s students on a daily basis.

As we can find no basis for the $17.5 billion figure Eyman has been using, not even after checking with the Office of Financial Management, and as Eyman has produced no documentation to justify it, we’re left to conclude that Eyman made it up.

This is the latest addition to a large body of evidence that demonstrates that Eyman cannot be trusted as a reliable source of information.

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