Tag Archives: I-1033

Eight Years: Statement from the Founder

AnnouncementsThreat Analysis

Today and throughout this month, Permanent Defense celebrates its eighth anniversary, marking the end of ninety six months of opposing harmful right wing initiatives, especially those sponsored by Tim Eyman. These last fifty two weeks – our eighth year – rank among the most difficult – but also the most rewarding – in our history. The following is a brief recap of our accomplishments:

  • Throughout our eighth year, we were part of the realization of one of Permanent Defense’s two original goals: the successful completion of Sound Transit’s Central Link light rail line. Staff were invited on several test runs of the line prior to its July 18th grand opening, and Permanent Defense’s parent organization, the Northwest Progressive Institute, provided extensive coverage of that event. We were again present for the December 19th opening of the Airport Link extension, which brought the line into the City of SeaTac.
  • We tirelessly worked as part of one of the biggest coalitions in Washington State history to defeat Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1033, the Mukilteo profiteer’s most destructive measure ever. After a frenzied October, which saw an unprecedented mobilization of clergy, municipal leaders, activists, community groups, and progressive organizations, we won a spectacular victory that spanned the Cascade Mountains. Our triumph marked Eyman’s second consecutive defeat at the ballot and his first in an odd-numbered year.
  • As part of the effort to defeat Initiative 1033, we built a grassroots campaign hub and organized opposition to the initiative through social networking. By Election Day, the NO on Initiative 1033 Facebook page co-maintained by Permanent Defense had surpassed thirteen thousand fans. We also worked to ensure that journalists heard about the consequences of I-1033 by regularly responding to Tim Eyman’s propaganda.
  • In the aftermath of the election, we began preparing to oppose Tim Eyman’s next measure, a do-over of Initiative 960 (2007) which the Legislature is poised to suspend. We provided an opposition presence at Eyman’s kickoff event in the Secretary of State’s office on January 11th.
  • Finally, we began work on a major overhaul of Permanent Defense’s website (Version 8, codenamed Camano) which will officially launch this week as part of our anniversary celebrations. Our new website runs on an incredibly powerful free software stack, and is ten times more robust than every prior incarnation.

We also continued to lobby the Legislature to reform the initiative process. The House and Senate are each considering bills we support that would make a difference. One would make it harder for Tim Eyman to go ballot title shopping, another would require mercenary petitioners to be more accountable.  We are hopeful that at least one of these bills will make it out of the statehouse this year.

We know that despite our successes, the underlying problems that allow Tim Eyman to exist – especially our regressive tax structure, but also a lack of political courage – remain unaddressed. These problems will not be solved by simply defeating forthcoming right wing ballot measures like Initiative 1053. Every time we defeat a Tim Eyman initiative, we are merely treating a symptom. Solving the underlying problems will take nothing less than a Herculean endeavor, and a strategic shift on the part of our movement. Permanent Defense’s parent organization, the Northwest Progressive Institute, was formed in August of 2003 to help make this strategic shift possible.

Although Permanent Defense’s narrowly focused work remains important, the larger work that NPI is undertaking has become even more critical and more important, because the clock is ticking. For too long, we have dithered and procrastinated, and allowed ourselves to be more concerned about winning elections than addressing the conditions that are precipitating the decline of our communities, our state, and our country. That must change. Our future depends on our ability to grow our common wealth, not just safeguard what we have.

Thanks for being a supporter and staying committed to the tough goal of neutralizing harmful right wing initiatives, year after year. Together, we will continue to provide a much needed first line of defense against new threats to our future.

Eyman is wrong: Voters have repeatedly agreed with Gov. Chris Gregoire’s fiscal positions when it counts

Rethinking and Reframing

In his latest diatribe to supporters, journalists, and elected leaders, initiative profiteer Tim Eyman trumpets a new SurveyUSA poll that he says proves the governor is unpopular. Eyman’s subject line said it all: “RE:  Gregoire pushes for higher taxes — new poll shows voters HATE her now more than ever — coincidence?  No way!”

The problem with Eyman’s line of argument is that when election time has rolled around (which is when voters’ opinions actually count), the people have repeatedly sided with the governor, sensibly sanctioning her fiscal positions in statewide votes. Let’s review:

  • In 2005, KVI radio hosts John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur (who no longer have their own shows on KVI) spearheaded a right wing initiative to repeal the increase in the gas tax that Governor Gregoire had fought so hard for. They succeeded in getting Initiative 912 on the ballot. Many people, including Tim Eyman, confidently predicted I-912’s passage. But instead, voters defeated it.
  • In 2006, Dennis Falk sponsored another right wing initiative to wipe out the estate tax, which Governor Gregoire and the Legislature had courageously restored and dedicated to the Education Legacy Trust. Voters again said no to the right wing and turned Initiative 920 down in a landslide.
  • In 2008, the people of Washington reelected Governor Gregoire over Dino Rossi, and said no to Tim Eyman’s Initiative 985 by large margins. I-985, which Gregoire opposed, would have opened high occupancy vehicle lanes to everyone during rush hour, and would have redirected revenue to road expansion in the future.
  • And this year, voters resoundingly rejected Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1033, which Gregoire publicly opposed and spent a significant amount of time and energy fighting behind the scenes.

Polls are snapshots in time: an attempt to gauge public opinion. They give political insiders something to talk about, but are not conclusive.

The only polls that ultimately matter take place for a few weeks in the autumn every year. Considering that Governor Gregoire’s record in elections is better than Tim Eyman’s, he is not qualified to claim that he understands the pulse of the people of Washington better than she does.

Eyman revises history again: I-776 wasn’t “overwhelmingly” approved by voters

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

The 2009 election may be over, but that hasn’t stopped initiative pitchman Tim Eyman from distorting the truth as he appeals to his followers to compensate him for failure.

In his latest missive, copied to the media, Eyman writes:

Over the past 11 years, we’ve sponsored 4 initiatives to reduce car tab taxes and voters got to vote on two of them:  both were overwhelmingly approved by the voters.

Eyman doesn’t name those two, but he’s talking about Inititative 695 in 1999 and Initiative 776 in 2002.

I-695 passed with 56% of the vote. If that’s overwhelming, than each defeat that Eyman has suffered at the ballot box is beyond overwhelming: I-745 was rejected in 2000 with 59.34% of the vote, I-894 was rejected in 2004 with 61.54% of the vote, I-985 was rejected in 2008 by 59.99% of the vote, and I-1033 is being rejected by 57%. And there’s a noteworthy factoid right there: No Eyman initiative has ever passed by a greater margin than any of his four defeats at the ballot.

There’s no question that I-695 passed handily. People felt the motor vehicle excise tax had gotten too high and was being collected unfairly. Presented with Tim Eyman’s all-or-nothing choice, a majority opted for nothing, not recognizing the consequences of this course of action.

But let’s look at 2002’s Initiative 776, which was on the ballot three years after I-695. I-776 passed with only 51.47% of the vote, which is hardly “overwhelming”. It is worth remembering that Initiative 776 sought to repeal vehicle fees that were only levied in four counties: King, Snohomish, Pierce, and Douglas. I-776 actually failed within King County and the Sound Transit taxing district as a whole, which spans the most urban part of King, Snohomish, and Pierce.

Even voters in Kitsap County, who were voting on vehicle fees that didn’t affect them, turned I-776 down, perhaps because they had witnessed better than anyone the consequences of I-695.

Considering his many losses and failures, Eyman should know better than anyone that voters are nuanced. If the case for preserving existing revenue or raising revenue is effectively made, people tend to vote prudently with an eye towards the future. If people can’t see the connection between their tax dollars and the services provided, they tend to be skeptical. That explains the failure of two propositions in Burien and Bremerton to raise vehicle fees.

Eyman cites this as evidence that people hate vehicle fees, but he’s being misleading… again. Surveys, such as the one Sound Transit conducted in 2007 after the failure of “Roads and Transit”, suggest people are willing to pay vehicle fees if the fees go towards services and projects that they support.

In some jurisdictions, like Seattle, levies get readily approved because people there are very concious about wanting to live in a place with a great quality of life. Elsewhere, however, people expect the case to be made to them in a campaign, and if it isn’t, they tend to be opposed in lopsided numbers. Just ask the people who run rural library districts or school districts.

This is one of the drawbacks of “budgeting by referendum”: it requires elected officials and concerned citizens to always be in campaign mode, defending the common wealth from erosion and destruction.

Pierce, Benton counties flip to NO on Initiative 1033

Election PostmortemStatements & Advisories

The victory over Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1033 continues to get bigger.

Yesterday evening, Benton County… which is a reliable vote for Eyman’s anti-tax initiatives… flipped to the NO side, joining much of the rest of southeast Washington in defeating Eyman’s latest scheme to kill jobs and wreck our common wealth.

And today, Pierce County has become the latest to flip. NO on I-1033’s lead in Pierce as of 5 PM today is almost a thousand votes. If the trend continues, that will leave Mason as the only county touching Puget Sound to vote in favor of Initiative 1033.

“The scope of this accomplishment gets more breathtaking by the day,” Northwest Progressive Institute Executive Director and Permanent Defense Chair Andrew Villeneuve said. “The coalition that united to beat back 1033 worked into the final days and hours to turn out the vote, and those efforts are clearly being reflected in the results we’re seeing.”

“The people of Washington State deserve a giant pat on the back for thinking beyond the ballot title and recognizing the consequences of this ill-conceived initiative.”

Statement on apparent defeat of Tim Eyman’s I-1033

Election PostmortemStatements & Advisories

The Northwest Progressive Institute, Permanent Defense’s parent organization,  released the following statement on the apparent defeat of Tim Eyman’s I-1033 tonight.

“We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief tonight with the apparent defeat of Initiative 1033,” said Villeneuve. “I-1033 would have trapped our state in a permanent recession, making an economic recovery impossible.”

“Tonight’s victory over Tim Eyman is a testament to the many organizations and people that came together to create the NO on I-1033 Coalition. We at the Northwest Progressive Institute are incredibly proud to have been part of such a diverse and determined effort to protect our quality of life.”

Villeneuve noted that I-1033 is currently failing in many counties across Washington, both east and west.

“We worked aggressively during this campaign to get the word out about the harmful consequences of this initiative in every corner of the state. That’s why we’re seeing counties like Asotin, Garfield, and Columbia turning this scheme down. Tough times have already forced local governments there down to bare bones. Initiative 1033 would have gutted what was left. Fortunately, Washingtonians have said no to greed and yes to a sustainable future, sparing our communites from a devastating blow.”

The defeat of Initiative 1033 marks the first time voters have turned down a Tim Eyman initiative in an odd year, and it is the first time voters have consecutively rejected Eyman initiatives two years in a row on the ballot.

Faith leaders speak out against Tim Eyman’s I-1033

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign TrailStatements & Advisories

Earlier this week, the NO on I-1033 Coalition held a press conference featuring four religious leaders opposed to Initiative 1033. The event was covered by KING5, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, NPI, and was mentioned by The Seattle Times.

The NPI Advocate has been publishing the full statements of each of the faith leaders who spoke as part of a special series on Initiative 1033. Many more faith leaders have also signed onto a letter opposing Initiative 1033 which can be viewed at the Washington Association of Churches’ website.

Highlights from Wednesday’s media event:

Reverend Chris Boerger, Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: “We cannot, for the sake of a few people whose greed has gotten in the way, decide to make public policy on the basis of greed. We need to make public policy on the basis of what would best serve the public, and 1033 does not do that.”

Rabbi Janine Schloss, of the Washington Coalition of Rabbis: “Judaism teaches us to speak up and it requires us to live our lives according to the highest values. And so, as someone who takes my faith seriously, I cannot vote for Initiative 1033. Because I will not be responsible for hurting let alone myself, but for hurting more importantly, my neighbors, my community, and all those who share the blessing of living in the State of Washington.”

Reverend Greg Rickel, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Olympia: “It is smoke and mirrors, designed to make people who are already suffering believe they will benefit, when in fact, they will not. Ultimately, no one will. 1033 is, at best, laziness on the part of leadership and social Darwinism at its worse. ”

Rev. Joyce Martin Emery, Transitional Synod Executive, Synod of AK/NW Presbyterian: “1033 guarantees more cuts that would be made in healthcare and education and social services. So we just cannot sit still, but must speak against this, because the gap between the rich and the poor would widen, and it would harm those that are vulnerable.”

I-1033’s placement on ballot bought and paid for by Michael Dunmire

Eye on Money: Developments

In an email sent out today to supporters and copied to the media, Tim Eyman is once again hypocritically criticizing opponents of his latest destructive initiative for contributing large amounts of money to stop it from passing. Eyman singled out several unions and their international affiliates, sneering, “Washington DC’s most powerful government unions are seeking to buy this year’s election on I-1033 — $2.6 million+ reported so far and much more expected.”

Eyman may enjoy pretending to be a populist, but he knows perfectly well we are only voting on Initiative 1033 because its placement on the ballot was bought and paid for by an angry investment banker who despises government.

Eyman acknowledges in his email that his initiative factory received a $300,000 donation from “super supporter” Michael Dunmire back in the spring. What he doesn’t admit was that Initiative 1033 could not have qualified for the ballot without Dunmire.

For the last four years, Dunmire has kept Eyman’s operation going by repeatedly dumping enormous sums of money into Eyman’s bank account, allowing Eyman to continually buy his way onto the ballot: in 2005 with Initiative 900, in 2007 with Initiative 960, in 2008 with Initiative 985, and almost in 2006 with Initiative 917, which looked like it would initially be on the ballot but ultimately self-imploded because it lacked enough valid signatures.

In 2008, Eyman used a combination of Dunmire’s money and a loan taken out against his home to come up with enough cash to buy I-985 onto the ballot, a formula he relied upon again this year. Last year’s loans, however, were fully covered by Dunmire, who wrote two checks on February 6th, 2009, for a total of $280,000. Eyman used this money to repay the $175,000 loan he had taken out for I-985, and three days later, he and the Fagans used the rest to compensate themselves. (See the C4 report and Amended Schedules A and L for ReduceCongestion.org, 3/10/2009 reporting date.)

If history is any indication, Dunmire will be paying off Eyman’s $250,000 loan for Initiative 1033 this winter, which woud then put his financial backing of I-1033 at a total of at least $550,000. Out of a total of $670,169 raised by Eyman this year for I-1033, that would be about 82%. Eighty two percent.

Without Dunmire, Eyman simply could not afford to hire signature gatherers to set up shop outside of stores and at events to pester citizens to autograph his initiative petitions. And without the signatures he purchases, Eyman couldn’t qualify for the ballot.

Dunmire’s cash makes it possible. That’s all it takes. But that’s not grassroots.

Eyman’s small dollar donations and the number of signatures collected by volunteers are insignificant compared to Dunmire’s checks and the number of signatures collected by mercenary petitioners.

Unlike SEIU, NEA, AFSCME, or any of the unions Eyman is condemning, his backer represents only one person: Michael Dunmire. Unions opposed to Initiative 1033, in contrast, represent thousands or tens of thousands of working families whose livelihood is directly threatened by Eyman’s jobs-killing wealth transfer scheme.

It should come as no surprise to anyone who follows politics that organized labor would donate heavily to defeat a ballot measure which not only puts its own members’ jobs in jeopardy, but punishes small businesses and destroys any hope of economic recovery for our state. This battle will decide Washington’s future. Unions are doing their part to ensure the opposition campaign has ample resources to explain to voters the devastating consequences I-1033 would have on our quality of life.

Eyman has no ground to stand upon when he criticizes opponents for relying on big bucks to build a war chest to educate voters. He qualifies initiatives by getting one rich guy to write him a couple checks.

If Tim Eyman doesn’t like big money in politics, he should stop relying on big money – one man’s money – to bankroll his initiatives and his “compensation fund”. Otherwise, he has no right to complain.

Governor Gregoire says I-1033 would “devastate” Washington

From the Campaign TrailStatements & Advisories

At the Washington Conservation Voters’ annual Breakfast of Champions this morning, Governor Chris Gregoire made a special appearance to urge activists to do everything possible to defeat Tim Eyman’s jobs-killing Initiative 1033, which freezes services and budgets at current levels, locking in cuts, and redirecting future sales taxes to pay for a special property tax cut for the rich.

Gregoire described I-1033 as the “one thing that will ensure we devastate the State of Washington”, forestalling any hope of economic recovery.

Emphasizing the extroadinary nature of the threat I-1033 represents, Gregoire said of her speech, during her remarks: “I don’t do this very often. In fact, I don’t recall ever having done it as governor. I come here from the bottom of my heart to tell you, I will not stand by, I will not be silent, as Washington State faces yet another [destructive] initiative. ”

The governor attacked I-1033 with intensity, saying she found Tim Eyman’s efforts to fool the public into believing there’s a free lunch “incomprehensible”. “The proponent of 1033 says there will be no cut in services. I just don’t get how you can suggest that,” Gregoire said.

Read a full transcript of Gregoire’s remarks at the NPI Advocate.

Initiative 1033 a recipe for unstable budgets and a bankrupt common wealth

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

In debates and forums across the state, initiative huckster Tim Eyman continues to try to peddle his latest scheme to trap Washington State in a permanent recession by claiming that it will stop politicians from “creating unsustainable budgets.”

This “unsustainable budgets” talking point is a cowardly deception on Eyman’s part that not only wildly distorts history but also the impact of his own initiative.

Using data from the Office of Financial Management and the Office of the Revenue Forecast Council, the Northwest Progressive Institute recently released a chart that shows that our state’s expenditures over the last three bienniums are well within historical norms dating back more than twenty five years.

(The last three bienniums are the period of time when Eyman claimed that Gregoire and the Legislature were “overextending”).

You can see this chart for yourself at the Vote NO I-1033 campaign hub.

At this link is also an explanation of the methodology the chart uses, along with a chart that also measures taxes as a percent of personal income. That chart shows that, like expenditures, revenue is not skyrocketing at all. Washington currently ranks 35th when compared to how much other states collect in terms of state and local taxes, which means we’re actually in the bottom third of states.

You can see the numbers the expenditures chart is based on at OFM’s site.

Back during the late 1990s, when demand for services was increasing, Washington State was neglecting infrastructure investments and not keeping pace with rapid economic growth, thanks to the shortsighted limits imposed by Initiative 601, which incidentally, did not pass by a very large margin.

A series of disasters in the 2000s, including repeated flooding, a drought, and the Nisqually earthquake in 2001, made it plainly evident that Initiative 601’s inflexible restrictions were preventing the state from making the needed investments in emergency preparedness and essential public services that we all rely on in our daily lives. So the Legislature acted to suspend Initiative 601.

And the investments it made, which were badly needed and demanded by the people of this state, did not overextend the state fiscally at all, nor did they cause the budget deficit we’re seeing now. That is a myth propagated by Tim Eyman and the Washington Policy Center that should be discarded. What did cause the Great Recession was irresponsible behavior, especially by the private sector.

Ironically, Initiative 1033 is just as irresponsible as the foolish, unsound business practices and the lax oversight policies that got us into the big mess we’re in. It is simply outrageous that Eyman is marketing Initiative 1033 as a cure; it’s really a whole new disease. But he’s doing precisely that because he knows if he admits his real intentions, Initiative 1033 would never pass.

And if there is one thing Tim Eyman is good at, it is deceiving voters.

Eyman’s I-1033 makes an existing situation super-awful by robbing the state, its counties, and it cities of close to eight billion dollars over the next five years. That’s eight billion dollars that would not be invested in schools, or parks, or hospitals, or police and fire protection.

How does Eyman think these services are going to be paid for? The state just patched a massive budget deficit with a combination of cuts and federal money. If state and local government could somehow be “reformed” to provide the same level of services that are provided now with far less money, it would already have been done. Because it would have been the easiest thing to do.

What legislator wants to make painful budget cuts just for fun?

But Eyman is not after more effective government. His objective is a future with no government. That’s why his initiative funnels the money it siphons off into a wealth redistribution fund. Think of it as a reverse Robin Hood scheme.

Eyman doesn’t believe in the good old American idea of pooling our resources to get things done. Instead, like a snake oil salesman, he offers gimmicky me-first initiatives that cause problems or worsen existing ones. Eyman’s initiatives are an annual homage to greed and selfishness.

By robbing public treasuries and redistributing that money primarily to the wealthy (who own the most property), Eyman’s scheme traps us in a permanent recession we can never climb out of.

Initiative 1033 guarantees deficits forever, as long as it in effect, because it locks in all the recent cuts as the baseline for future budgets. Under Initiative 1033, Washingtonians can forget about public safety, quality public schools, a cleaner environment, well maintained parks to visit, or assistance for seniors. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. All of those services will become further underfunded and there won’t be enough money to continue employing public servants like firefighters and teachers. At some point, some of the services we depend on will simply disappear. They won’t be able to exist because there won’t be any revenue available to put into them.

Eyman is doing all he can to market his sinister scheme to a gullible public, hoping that nobody will look behind the curtain and investigate the consequences. The truth is this: Initiative 1033 kills jobs, freezes essential public services at recession levels,, and scams anyone who isn’t already a rich property owner. Our economy is already hurting enough, Initiative 1033 would kill off any chance of recovery.

Initiative 1033 is a recipe for unstable budgets and  a bankrupt common wealth that we must reject.

Susan Hutchison calls Eyman’s I-1033 “a disaster”

EndorsementsStatements & Advisories

Last night at the Suburban Cities Association dinner in Tukwila, Susan Hutchison, the former KIRO TV anchor who captured the most votes in the primary for King County Executive, agreed with her rival Dow Constantine that Initiative 1033 is simply unaffordable for Washington State.

Asked, “If Initiative 1033 is approved by the voters, what do you believe will be the impact on plans for annexations and growth in King County?”, Hutchison replied (in part):

“I’m not quite sure it’s… it’s on the radar of our voters… yet. But… it’s certainly on the radar of all of you, and the mayors I’ve talked to. […] if it passes, it would be a disaster… for King County and all of our cities throughout the state.”

This is Hutchison’s strongest stand against Initiative 1033 to date. In June, she told the Northwest Progressive Institute she had no opinion on I-1033; she later admitted to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer she was planning on voting no.

Hutchison added that she thinks it makes more sense for government to place surplus revenue into a rainy day fund in good times. Under Initiative 1033, this would not be possible. Initiative 1033 is a giant freeze on services that prevents the state, cities, and counties from investing in services above what was invested the previous year, with a lame and pathetic amount of padding to supposedly account for inflation and population growth. Initiative 1033’s services freeze would trap our state in a permanent recession, destroying any chance of recovery in the near future.

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