Category Archives: Rethinking and Reframing

New report discredits Eyman’s claims

Rethinking and Reframing

A new report released by the Department of Revenue has just discredited initiative profiteer Tim Eyman’s claims that taxes are skyrocketing and out of control.

Indeed, the report found that Washington State’s tax burden has been declining since 1981- just the opposite of what Tim Eyman continues to claim.

Eyman tried to dismiss the report, calling it “election-year politics”. But it’s Eyman, and not the state Department of Revenue, who has skewed statistics.

Eyman tries to take the total amount of revenue collected each year by the state and stack it up in ever-increasing bars on a graph, then point to it and say that property taxes are obscene and uncontrollable.

But you can’t measure property tax growth, or any kind of tax growth, by looking at the dollar amount collected each year. Any smart economist can tell you right away that Eyman’s method of looking at tax growth is extremely distorted.

Tax growth is best measured against personal income. This accounts for factors such as inflation and population growth- factors essential for a correct calculation.

The Department of Revenue’s new report measures tax growth against personal income, and finds that Washington is not the first, second, third, or fourth highest taxed state in the nation.

We rank 32nd in the nation in the new report (from 1998-2002) in comparative state and local taxes. And our tax burden has been on the decline since 1981.

That’s hardly “obscene” tax growth. When it comes to taxes, Washington is actually in the upper tier of states- states with a lower tax burden.

And having a lower tax burden isn’t always a great thing, because taxes pay for essential public services. Without enough revenue, the quality of those services can be degraded.

It’s clear that Tim Eyman’s rhetoric about skyrocketing and obscene property taxes is useless hype. No wonder, though, that Tim Eyman doesn’t want voters to believe this report. If they do, it will give them no reason to vote for his initiatives.

If his initiatives are voted down, Tim makes no money. It’s somehow in his best interest, then, to keep the lies coming and the fabrication machine on full spin.

Washington’s voters deserve to know the truth, not the spin, about property tax growth in this state. And clearly they’re not going to get that from Tim Eyman.

Eyman statistics about “obscene” taxes are misleading, meaningless

Rethinking and Reframing

Since the beginning of his efforts to put I-864 and I-892 on the 2004 ballot, Tim Eyman has consistently complained about the rise in property taxes over the past several decades. His major, overriding complaint is that property taxes have increased from $1 billion in 1980 to $6.25 billion in 2003. But does this figure accurately represent the change in the property tax burden?

The answer is no. Information from the Department of Revenue does show an increase in the amount of revenue collected from property taxes each year. But you can’t look at the amount of money the state collects and use that as an appropriate figure.

Any accurate representation of the property tax burden should take into account the following factors:

  • Inflation
  • Population growth (and, since 1980, Washington’s population has increased 32.2%)
  • Expansion of the tax base (i.e., more properties to tax)
  • Loss or gain of federal funding
  • Shifting of revenue from one tax source to another

Tim’s complaint that the property tax growth is “obscene” is unjustifiable. Revenue collection figures will always continue to grow because of inflation. And because the population continues to grow, and because more properties are developed, Washington will require more public services. More public services requires an increase in revenue.

There is no way to prevent this increase unless the level of public services currently provided by the state and local governments were to drastically regress. This would lead to a loss of jobs as firemen, librarians, police officers, and other government employees would be laid off in large numbers.

The following chart, furnished by the Department of Revenue, provides a better look at tax growth. Compare it side by side to the chart Tim Eyman uses in his argument that the property tax burden is “obscene”.
Several conclusions can be made from the chart to the left. The first is that the tax burden has dramatically decreased. Part of this is because government has had to make do with less, even as population has grown and demands on the state’s infrastructure have increased.

The second is that using 1980 as a starting date is misleading. If you start one year earlier, in 1979, it’s obvious that the tax burden has clearly and dramatically decreased. In fact, property taxes as a percentage of assessed value have clearly declined.

According to the Washington State Tax Structure Committee and every other accountable source, the economic figure that most closely tracks growth in demand for public services is growth in personal income. Personal income is also the only number which permits a true measure of tax burden.

This second chart, also provided by the Department of Revenue, shows that thirty one other states have higher tax burdens than Washington:

So Tim’s claim that tax growth is “obscene” is simply not true. And compared to other states, Washington’s tax burden is fairly low. Because Tim’s method of measurement doesn’t produce meaningful information, his results are completely misleading and out of context.

Those who take Tim’s statistics for granted don’t understand that he’s playing with the numbers and the figures, using irrelevant data and presenting misleading graphs to paint a distorted picture of Washington State’s tax burden. He’s proved one thing- even when it comes down to math, you can’t trust Tim Eyman.

Firefighters speak out

Rethinking and ReframingThreat Analysis

A number of firefighters have contacted us, concerned about the effects of Initiative 864, and asked us to help them spread their message. Initiative 864 means REAL cuts for REAL firefighters, and that’s jobs lost in an already downbeat economy. Not to mention the drop in your level of protection, would could lead to higher insurance rates. So, here’s the firefighters in their own words:

From Brandon Knopp, a King County volunteer firefighter:

It would be great to cut taxes and all. But has anyone stopped and thought about what it will do to the Fire and Police departments?

I am a volunteer fire fighter out in a rural are in King County. My Chief met with the King County Police Chiefs and Fire Chiefs, and they are all concerned about this 25% cut.

A few examples of how it would back just some of the local fire and police departments:

  • Federal Way Fire Department would lose about 10 fire fighters.
  • Maple Valley would lose 3 or 4.
  • King County would not be able to fund King County Medic One and therefore we would not have ANY paramedics in the South King County area.

And one of bigger issues is that departments like mine would be shut down. Our district is adjacent to Maple Valley and Enumclaw.

If this 25% cut went through, Maple Valley and Enumclaw would not be able to cover our 26 square mile district. There would be no fire or aid protection in that area.

And if you look in Eastern Washington, it’s almost ALL volunteer departments So, say goodbye to our forests if they catch fire, because there won’t be anyone to put them out.

So…please, please, please take what I have said into consideration before supporting this 25% cut.

From Tim Kienitz, Clark County Fire District #6:

As a firefighter I am faced with the potential of losing my job. That in itself is a bad thing, as I have a family to support. The worst part of it is what it would do to the community that I serve.

The service of EMS and Fire protection we offer to the community would be crippled because of manpower cuts and service would suffer. I fear that because of the political climate in the country about taxes people will not understand that the money they pay goes to protect their very lives.

From Shawn, a suburban firefighter:

I am a member of a mid sized fire department with less than 50 paid employees, serving a mostly suburban community. Recently we met with our administration regarding a contingency plan in case I-864 passes. Losing revenue by cutting property taxes in our Fire District translates to laying off 15 firefighters and firefighter paramedics and closing one of our 3 fire stations.

In turn, our response times would increase and service levels would decrease to that of the early 90’s while our call volume will have doubled from the same time. I hope the voters in the state of Washington will come to realize that this initiative WILL gut our public services and our Fire Departments will lose their effectiveness in making a timely response to their emergency.

Protect your quality of life and your local community… decline to sign Initiative 864.

Seattle Times fails to update Associated Press story on Eyman complaint

Eye on Money: DevelopmentsRethinking and Reframing

On Friday, August 15th, 2003, the Seattle Times published an Associated Press story about the PDC’s dismissal of Steve Zemke’s complaint. Permanent Defense News checked the length and content of the Times’ version against a similar story published on the Seattle P-I’s website the day before.

Oddly enough, the P-I’s story seemed to be double the length of the Times’ story, and had comments from both Eyman and Zemke. The Times version had only comments from the PDC and Eyman- and then the story was cut off.

Permanent Defense wrote a letter to the editor asking why the story was so different from the one on the P-I’s website. After some internal investigation, a Seattle Times editor replied and said that the paper’s metro editors had failed to update the story as they should have- leaving out Mr. Zemke’s comments by mistake.

“The reason our story didn’t include Zemke is that we used an earlier version of the AP piece and did not update it once a new version moved on the wires.”

-Seattle Times Management, Response to PD Inquiry

We chose not to link to the Times version the day it was published because the P-I version was longer and more accurate than its shorter counterpart.

The impact of Initiative 695: One commuter’s story

Election PostmortemRethinking and Reframing

Christine Dorsey of Kitsap County writes:

I live in Kitsap County and Eyman’s antics have thoroughly disrupted my life. I commuted by ferry to Seattle, so I was very dependent on transit to get me from my home to the Kingston ferry.

When the car tabs initiative passed [I-695] ,I lost my bus route, so I had to drive 16 miles to the ferry terminal and pay an additional 50.00 a month for parking, then the ferry fares jumped dramatically.

I then lost my job in Seattle because I couldn’t get a bus to my office on time and the transit times were cut. All around Tim Eyman’s initiatives wrecked my job and my lifestyle. There still is no bus route in my area and I wonder what the elderly and school age kids do if they don’t have a car.

This is one of many examples of damage resulting from Tim Eyman’s initiatives. I-695 has hurt many people. Yet most conservatives are oblivious to this. They, of all people, should know, yet they continue to support Eyman’s ridiculous anti-tax rhetoric. Have they failed to notice that ferry fares have skyrocketed since the 1990s?

In part, that’s due to the recession, but the implementation of Tim Eyman’s I-695 is primarily to blame.

We have a simple message for our fellow Washingtonians: Don’t let Eyman get away with wrecking your life. Don’t let a fraternity watchmaker from Mukilteo dictate our government’s money flow.

Decline to sign Initiative 807.

Tim is back…and he has more lies to spread

Ballot WatchdoggingRethinking and ReframingThreat Analysis

The following is an original statement by Tim Eyman on July 2nd (in italics). Interjected between each blockquote is Permanent Defense’s response, in roman font.

If politicians had one ounce of compassion for the average taxpayer, I-776 would not be necessary.

Politicians care about taxpayers, Tim. The problem is, we don’t give them enough money to fix Washington’s problems. It’s not their fault we keep blowing holes in the budget every year.

Washington is the 2nd highest taxed state in the nation- I-776 keeps us from hitting #1.

Please, Tim. Stop spreading lies. In 2001 you said we were the 4th highest taxed state. Do you mean to tell us that, despite your initiatives, we moved up in your fraudulent rankings? Incredible!

I-776 offers $30 tabs on your car, truck, motorcycle, motorhome, and other vehicles. Working class folks, not just rich people, should be able to afford a newer vehicle. $30 is reasonable.

Obviously not. We are out of money for transportation infrastructure and you don’t care.

When political judges vetoed voter-approved I-695, politicians frantically embraced $30 tabs during that election year.

Well, no wonder. They were surprised by our misinformed vote and didn’t have the courage to fix the motor vehicle excise tax in a responsible way.

Gary Locke said “Despite the court’s ruling, we have no intention of returning to the old system of high license tab fees. $30 license tabs are here to stay.”

It actually costs more than $30 to pay your registration even if you repeal excise taxes.

Passing I-776 also sends politicians a message: don’t increase taxes and fees unless you ask voters’ permission first (read I-776’s language).

Remember, Tim, you’ve gotten into hot water before by having more than one subject in an initiative. Once again, you try to do too much.

Leadership involves listening.

But you never listen. You’re too busy talking.

Taxpayers want their voices heard.

But not in your words.

With voter approval, politicians must convince us that current revenues are being spent as effectively as possible before we OK more – that’s accountability.

Well, they try, but you blast them with the usual: you always say politicians are lying.

I-776 ensures a long-overdue revote on light rail.

We don’t need a revote. What we need is more mass transit. The people of Seattle voted in Greg Nickels as mayor in 2001. That means that the majority of people in Seattle want light rail, because Nickels is a strong advocate of it.

By ensuring “$30 Tabs for Everyone”, I-776 brings accountability to the worst government agency in state history: Sound Transit. I-776 repeals car taxes which provide 20% of their funding and forces this reckless rogue agency to get renewed.

Actually, Sound Transit may not be affected. Sorry, Tim. The agency can use its dollars to repay its debt, so I-776 will do nothing to Sound Transit’s Central Link project.

If politicians still want light rail, then put a new tax package before the voters.

Why? Your initiative won’t stop Sound Transit, and we in Puget Sound approved Sound Transit in 1996 anyway by saying yes to Sound Move.

Beginning construction with a majority opposed is arrogant and unacceptable.

The majority of people in this region want light rail.

In January, a poll commissioned by the King County Council showed 68% of King County voters wanted a revote on light rail (the numbers in Pierce and Snohomish must be stratospheric).

Numbers change, Tim. You can’t hurt Sound Transit.

Washington is the 2nd highest taxed state in the nation, so the problem isn’t lack of taxes.

Once again, Tim, you lie. We don’t know where you get your statistics from, but they’re not true.

Voters have been clear:

No, we haven’t. We send different messages at each election.

$30 tabs and voter approval for tax and fee increases. I-776 sends that message again.

Because it wasn’t irresponsible enough the first time?

Anything but an overwhelming “Yes” for I-776 will be seen by politicians as an endorsement of higher taxes. I-776 helps everyone so we ask for your support this November.

It doesn’t help us at all. It eliminates funding for road improvements and transit.

We’ve faced some extraordinary challenges this year.

Exactly, and none of them weren’t deserved.

But standing here today, there is no doubt that Permanent Offense, its’ leaders and its’ supporters, have never been more unified and more energized.

Uh huh. That’s what you’d like people to believe.

Our supporters kept their eye on the ball, stayed focused, and made I-776 a reality. More than 250,000 citizens voluntarily signed our I-776 petitions because they believed in the simple principle that politicians should keep their promises.

Actually, Tim, you used paid-signature gatherers to buy your way onto the ballot. Most people are too polite to refuse signing a document that someone is earning wages from.

But frankly, it would be incredibly inconsiderate of us to not give credit to those most responsible for our continued success: our opponents, our detractors, and their allies in the press.

Tim thinks we help him, but we don’t.

Permanent Offense – the four of us – would be nothing without you.

That’s why you took money from your supporters, isn’t it, Tim?

It is incredibly gratifying to me to watch our initiatives continue to elicit such contempt from the elitists in government, business, labor, and the ivory towers of the media but continue to garner overwhelming victories by regular voters each and every year.

A misinformed voter will vote on anything that puts money into his or her pocket. You and your lies, Tim.

To watch you all sputter and huff and puff with no real impact on the electorate is an illustration of the disconnect you have with the hopes, dreams, and fears of the average taxpayer.

Tim, you’re the one that stole the money. You are completely out-of-touch and we’ve seen no indication that your attitudes will change anytime soon.

Work yourself into a lather if you want to concerning our efforts to limit taxes in Washington state, it makes no difference to me, because to the average voter, you have all reached the point of near-irrelevance.

Earlier, you complained about people playing dirty, Tim. You yell at opponents for doing it, then you encourage it. Way to be consistent.

Throughout our campaign, we have sent our supporters a monthly letter keeping them updated on our progress. I’d like to read an excerpt from the letter we sent in May:

Our opponents and their allies in the press have pulled out all the stops to derail our efforts to protect taxpayers this year. Big Labor’s fraudulent scheme to attack our bank account, the government’s lawsuit against Tim, blaring smear headlines in the newspapers, scoffing editorials, and politicians’ vicious threats and scare tactics.

It has been the most ruthless, relentless, shameless, transparent effort to stop an initiative campaign in state history. They’ve emptied their chamber on us. They dropped their A-BOMB. We’ve seen their worst.

We didn’t do everything we could have done to stop I-776, but we never stooped to breaking the law. There’s not much one can do against paid-signature gatherers.

Let’s take all their venom and use it to energize us. Let’s absorb all their attacks and become stronger.

You’ll only get weaker when you’re forced to deal with the Attorney General’s lawsuit against you.

If we work together and succeed this year despite all THIS, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish in the future.

That must be why you’re begging you’re supporters for money to pay your legal defense bills with.

Our supporters took that message to heart. The qualification of I-776 for the ballot is a testament to the faith, loyalty and junkyard-dog determination of our supporters. It is truly an extraordinary accomplishment and one that is worthy of the history books.

Three words: Paid-signature gatherers. Junkyard dog determination, indeed.

Thanks to our supporters’ perseverance, Permanent Offense and Tim Eyman will be a punching bag for pompous politicians, pious political practitioners, and premadonna press people for years to come. We hope so. It’s gonna be a lot of fun. Because thanks to our supporters, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish in the future.

There’s a huge limit. When you’re forced to pay the state for breaking the law, we’ll laugh, and when you use paid-signature gatherers again, we’ll point it out. You lied, and it’s obvious if you’d take your supporters’ money without asking or saying anything, then cover it up, you’re not to be trusted with government management.

Tim’s words are, once again, up front and cleverly themed to include nothing about any money-taking, only the fact that “I’ve busted my butt off for years” and “my need to be compensated”.

Tim’s message is once again full of potholes. When he says, “we’ve beaten them handily year after year”- referring to business groups, labor unions, and the press – he has conveniently forgotten that only one initiative out of four was really successful. Two were tossed out by courts, one failed, and one is unfortunately on our books.

Tim says that voters, year after year, “agreed with our common-sense ideas of reasonable taxes and increased accountability.” In reality, the public was misinformed. Tim is essentially calling budget-slashing, transportation-gutting, police & fire-chopping, ferry fare-skyrocketing, park-closing reasonable.

After I-695 was thrown out in court, the Legislature went back and re-instituted it.  This is the first year we haven’t been able to backfill the giant hole I-695 blew in state and county budgets. By approving I-747, voters decided that police, firemen, and public employees’ salaries really didn’t matter very much.

Tim’s “team”, Permanent Offense, can’t even manage their own finances. They let Eyman sneak thousands under their noses, then they turn around and expect us to take their advice on how to manage government. Simply ridiculous.

As for the accusations about the Washington State Labor Council playing dirty… he’s just exaggerating to attract attention. We don’t condone what WSLC tried to do, but it’s nothing compared to Eyman’s trickery.

Eyman also says that he gets “an avalanche of phone calls, emails, faxes and letters from supporters offering their encouragement.” We haven’t seen any of that correspondence, Tim. How do we know you’re telling the truth?

Tim says that, after I-695, “I figured that I-695 was such a tremendous victory for taxpayers and that it sent such a clear and unambiguous message to politicians I figured my work was done.”

It’s obvious why politicians didn’t accept I-695’s message: it was an irresponsible initiative.

Eyman then goes on to proclaim that, after I-695 “It’s also when I made a decision: that I couldn’t work for free.” So you decided to sneak money and lie about it! Real clever, Tim! All the while trying to hold the “moral high ground” against your opponents.

Tim laments that there are people, such as politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists, and others: working around the clock, all year long, to raise the taxes of Washingtonians. But no one does that. That’s what Tim would like people to believe. He asks people “to stand with me now”. Why should anyone do that?

Obviously he’s a liar, a cheat, and deceiver.

It’s time to send Tim and pals a real clear message: Stop. Enough. If voters have the sensibility to reject Initiative 776, then it will prove that finally people understand that Tim Eyman and Permanent Offense don’t have the public interest at heart.

Their goal is to help themselves.

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