Tag Archives: I-1053

Pot, meet kettle: Tim Eyman attacks Governor Jay Inslee for “employing political spin” on revenue

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Another Monday has arrived, and so has another mid-morning Eyman missive that sounds like it was put together on an assembly line in Tim’s home office. Today’s target is Governor Jay Inslee, who took office less than two weeks ago and is now trying to put together a budget proposal – presumably a proposal that will square with what he said during last autumn’s campaign.

Inslee and his team are weeks away from presenting their budget, but that hasn’t stopped Tim Eyman from charging that Inslee intends to raise taxes.

In Eyman’s universe, any action that forestalls a decrease in revenue is really a tax increase, just as the repeal of any tax loophole or exemption is a tax increase. It is worth remembering that Eyman’s own unconstitutional, undemocratic initiatives use his definition for what a tax increase is.

And since I-960/I-1053/I-1185 are regrettably on our books, the Office of Financial Management is using Eyman’s definition – because Eyman’s own initiative requires them to! From Section 2 of I-960:

(1) For any bill introduced in either the house of representatives or the senate that raises taxes as defined by RCW 43.135.035 or increases fees, the office of financial management must expeditiously determine its cost to the taxpayers in its first ten years of imposition, must promptly and without delay report the results of its analysis by public press release via email to each member of the house of representatives, each member of the senate, the news media, and the public, and must post and maintain these releases on its web site. Any ten-year cost projection must include a year-by-year breakdown. For any bill containing more than one revenue source, a ten-year cost projection for each revenue source will be included along with the bill’s total ten-year cost projection. The press release shall include the names of the legislators, and their contact information, who are sponsors and co-sponsors of the bill so they can provide information to, and answer questions from, the public.

We can see from this provision of I-960 that the initiative also stupidly requires OFM to do ten-year cost projections. As our friends at the Washington Budget & Policy Center have pointed out on several occasions, these projections are worthless. By Eyman’s logic, a police lieutenant in NPI’s hometown of Redmond will make more than half a million dollars — over the next ten years.

During the 2010 legislative session, the Legislature raised revenue by around $600 million per year. And a substantial chunk of that is actually set to expire this year. So Eyman’s billion-dollar figures are bogus.

Eyman loves to talk about – and distort – the revenue side of the equation when it comes to the state budget. But he almost never talks about the value side. It often seems as though Eyman would like us all to believe the membership dues we pay as citizens of this great state of Washington just disappear into the ether.

In reality, our taxes provide for roads, bridges, ferries, buses, rail transit, libraries, parks, pools, schools, universities, police and fire protection, clean drinking water, and waste treatment, as well as mental health counseling, housing, and other human services for the most vulnerable among us.

And that’s just the abridged version of what is a long list.

We all benefit from these public services, Tim Eyman included. And we all lose when draconian cuts result in services being eviscerated or eliminated. Austerity measures are bad for public health, bad for environmental freedom, bad for safe neighborhoods, and bad for economic security. Austerity measures lead to lost jobs in the public sector and start a chain reaction that causes real GDP to fall by an amount larger than the total amount of money they “save”. (Those reading who have studied macroeconomics know this concept is known as the multiplier effect).

Eyman’s initiatives are purposely written to deprive our common wealth of the revenue that our public services need to stay in strong shape.

In his early days, Eyman hawked schemes that slashed revenue directly; but he has since taken to heart a famous saying of Grover Norquist’s: “I’m not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” That’s why his more recent initiatives take a death-by-a-thousand-cuts approach to wrecking state and local government.

Eyman tries to make it sound as though state government is some monstrous beast consuming more and more of our money with every passing year. But this is a fiction. State and local taxes per $1,000 of personal income have actually been on the decline since before the the Great Recession hit, as the Office of Financial Management shows on this page, complete with a chart that also shows the fifty state average.

In 1995, state and local taxes per $1,000 of personal income hit a high of $119.93. In 2010, the most recent year for which data was available, the figure stood at $94.48. That’s a decrease, not an increase, and a fairly significant decrease over fifteen years.

What about expenditures? Well, again, contrary to Tim Eyman’s hyperbolic rhetoric, expenditures have not been on a meteoric rise. State and local government expenditures per $1,000 of personal income have risen and declined slightly at times over the past two decades, but expenditures today are lower than they were in the early nineties. Here’s the data from OFM, again with a nifty chart.

Twenty years ago, in 1993, state expenditures stood at $224.37 per $1,000 of personal income. That was the high point during the last two decades. In 2010, the most recent year for which data was available, the figure was $200.42.

Again, that’s a decrease, not an increase.

Furthermore, since 2000, Washington’s average has tracked the fifty-state average.

How revenues and expenditures are measured matters. By presenting information in absolute terms, Tim Eyman can make it seem as though government just keeps taking more and more of our money. But the truth is that we the people are the government, and we have reduced our obligations to each other over the last twenty years.

Washington is not the same state it was in 2003, 1993, or 1983. As our economy has grown, so has the demand for public services. The state may be taking in more revenue than it did not long ago in absolute terms, but in relative terms, it’s not. And data cannot be fairly or meaningfully compared year-to-year in absolute terms; as the oft-used expression goes, it’s like comparing apples to oranges.

Ten years ago was a different time; twenty years ago was a different time. Even last year was a different time. We have to compensate for population growth, new development, inflation, and other factors when we consider what it costs to provide services now versus what it cost back then. That’s why it makes sense to look at revenue and expenditures per $1,000 of personal income.

It is beyond ironic that Tim Eyman is accusing newly inaugurated Governor Jay Inslee of “employing political spin”. Nobody is better at generating spin and manipulating the media in Washington than Tim Eyman, who shows no signs of wanting to call it quits after more than a decade of promoting initiatives… and profiting from them.

Two-thirds is *not* a majority: New pictogram explains what I-1185, lawsuit against I-1053 are really about

From the Campaign TrailIn the CourtsRethinking and Reframing

Today, NPI’s Permanent Defense is releasing a new pictogram that explains what Initiative 1185 and the lawsuit against I-1053 are really about.

Inspired by NPI’s late board member Lynn Allen, the artist and storyteller who created a similar visual for NPI’s 2010 video explaining the cost and consequences of I-1053, the pictogram shows how the two-thirds scheme embraced by Tim Eyman and big oil companies like BP and Royal Dutch Shell is preventing our Legislature from functioning as our founders intended it to.

What I-1185 and the lawsuit against I-1053 are really about
Click on thumbnail to see larger image

On the left side of the pictogram is an illustration of what happens when Article II, Section 22 of our state Constitution is in force. Fifty votes (out of ninety-eight total) are sufficient to pass a revenue bill in the House, and twenty-five votes (out of forty-nine total) are sufficient to pass a revenue bill in the Senate.

On the right side of the pictogram is an illustration of what the two-thirds scheme does when it it allowed to illegitimately take precedence over Article II, Section 22. Power is unconstitutionally and undemocratically transferred to a minority – specifically, thirty-three representatives in the House and seventeen senators in the Senate – who gain veto power over the majority.

The words “control outcome” are used in the pictogram to explain who really has power in each situation. When the Legislature operates in accordance with the rules from our Constitution, the majority prevails, because a majority vote is sufficient to pass a bill – even a bill that raises revenue. But when Tim Eyman and Big Oil’s rules are substituted for the Constitution’s rules, control of the outcome passes into the hands of just a few lawmakers, who can override their colleagues.

“This pictogram gives meaning to the adage,  ‘A picture is worth a thousand words'”, said NPI founder Andrew Villeneuve. “It is hard to quickly explain to voters the destructive impact that I-960 and I-1053 have had on our state. But this pictogram tells the story, through simple stick figures and easy-to-read fractions.”

“What the pictogram tells us is that above all, this two-thirds scam has sabotaged our plan of government and prevented our Legislature from operating democratically as it always should. It has changed the decision-making process.”

“That has been the most important consequence. The damage isn’t necessarily visible, but it’s there all of the same… beneath the surface.”

“Tim Eyman has a simple slogan he has been using for years, for I-960, for I-1053, and now I-1185: ‘We can’t trust Olympia, so let’s make it tougher for politicians to raise taxes.’ As far as sound bites go, it’s short, but it’s definitely not sweet. The word sour would be a more fitting descriptor. It’s a manipulative sales pitch that reeks of cynicism and improvidence. It should be obvious by now that Eyman thrives on distrust in government; he has an interest in sowing fear, uncertainty, and doubt in people’s minds. It’s good for business.”

“Eyman wants people to think that state government is the problem, so they’ll overlook the fact that his initiative factory is funded by powerful corporations like BP, ConocoPhillips, and Royal Dutch Shell.”

“These corporations want to trample all over our state Constitution so their lobbyists can wield even more power in our state’s capital than they already do.”

“From looking at the pictogram, we can see that requiring a two-thirds vote to raise revenue is not democratic. The phrase ‘two-thirds majority’ is a misnomer because two-thirds is not a majority. It’s a supermajority. And here’s the thing: A supermajority is actually the inverse of a submajority, which even Rob McKenna’s office agrees is not a majority. Requiring a two-thirds vote to raise revenue, in practice, means that just over one-third of the lawmakers of each house control the outcome. They can say no to everybody else.”

It is worth noting that our Constitution itself cannot be altered by majority vote. But that is because it is our highest law. It is the sacred document that protects minority rights. As recent research by Perkins Coie’s David Perez shows, our founders debated where and when to require supermajorities; they knew that in any instance where a higher threshold was put in place, the minority would control the outcome.

The rules they gave us say a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds vote, but bills require just a majority vote. That way, we have majority rule with minority rights. And by majority vote, our founders meant greater than fifty percent.

No more, no less.

What I-1185 and the lawsuit against I-1053 are really about is this: Will we uphold Washington’s Constitution or not? If we care about the rule of law and the plan of government our founders gave us, we ought to reject I-1185 at the ballot, and our Supreme Court ought to uphold Judge Bruce Heller’s ruling striking down I-1053.

Tim Eyman claims he’s “optimistic” that Supreme Court will side with him in lawsuit against I-1053

In the CourtsRethinking and Reframing

Tomorrow, the highest court of law in the State of Washington – the Supreme Court – will hear oral argument in League of Education Voters et. al. v. State of Washington, the legal challenge against Tim Eyman’s I-1053 originally filed over a year ago in King County Superior Court by a coalition of parents, teachers, and lawmakers.

As was predicted when the case was filed, it has now reached the state Supreme Court on appeal. Attorney General Rob McKenna’s office is asking the Court to throw out the decision reached by widely respected Judge Bruce E. Heller, who found that I-1053 was unconstitutional and void in its entirety.

The plaintiffs in the case, represented by Paul Lawrence, are asking the Court to sustain Heller’s ruling and strike I-1053 from the Revised Code of Washington.

I-1053 sponsor Tim Eyman is not directly involved in the litigation (the attorney general’s office is required by law to defend initiatives) but, as usual, he is cheering on Rob McKenna, whose legal team is asking the Supreme Court to dismiss the case on a technicality, and failing that, find I-1053 constitutional.

Eyman sent out an email earlier today listing several reasons why he’s “optimistic” the Court will side with him and overturn Heller’s decision… either based on a technicality, or on the merits. He all but declares victory prematurely, equating the case against I-1053 to Brown v. Owen, the last lawsuit to challenge the two-thirds scheme to raise revenue that Eyman has turned into his own pet cause.

Let’s go through Eyman’s reasons and add some context and commentary, shall we?

Reason number one:

EYMAN:  Just two years ago, a unanimous state supreme court rejected a very similar lawsuit under very similar circumstances (one chamber passed a tax increase and a lawsuit was filed challenging the two-thirds).  That 9-0 opinion, authored by Justice Mary Fairhurst, the most liberal justice on the state supreme court, resulted in a “finding this a political question” that should be resolved through the legislative process.

Here Eyman is referring to the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Owen. The Court held in that case that it could not grant Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown (the plaintiff) a writ of mandamus ordering Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen (the defendant) to forward a revenue-raising bill that had achieved a majority vote  to the House of Representative (even though the bill had achieved the constitutionally required majority).

Owen, interpreting Initiative 960, had ruled that the bill in question needed a two-thirds vote to pass, in accordance with the initiative, even though Article II, Section 22 says that the standard for passage of bills is a majority vote. Brown then took Owen to court, hoping to get the Supreme Court to decide the constitutionality of I-960. The Court declined to do so. But in dismissing the action, it did not find I-960 to be constitutional.

Nor did the Court say, as Eyman seems to be suggesting by quoting one phrase from the decision, that the issue of whether I-960 was constitutional was not appropriate for the court to decide. In fact, the Court reminded all parties in the case that judicial review is the job of the judiciary:

While serving as the presiding officer of the senate, the lieutenant governor is an officer of the legislative branch. State ex rel. Lemon v. Langlie, 45 Wn.2d 82, 98, 273 P.2d 464 (1954). It is beyond the power of the legislature to rule that a law it has enacted is unconstitutional. Wash. State Farm Bureau, 162 Wn.2d at 303-04 (“‘[T]he legislature is precluded by the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers from making judicial determinations.’” (alteration in original) (quoting O’Brien, 85 Wn.2d at 271)).

This case is like Brown v. Owen in that it challenges the constitutionality of an initiative requiring two-thirds votes for bills that raise revenue, but in other respects, it is quite different. For instance, the relief requested is not a writ of mandamus. As Judge Bruce Heller explained in his opinion striking down I-1053:

This case represents the first constitutional challenge to the supermajority and mandatory referendum requirements brought before a trial court. Unlike Walker and Brown, the plaintiffs are asking for declaratory relief instead of a writ of mandamus. In other words, they are requesting a ruling regarding the constitutionality of a statute, as opposed to an order requiring another branch of government to perform or refrain from performing an act.

Judge Heller concluded that the request for declaratory relief was properly brought, and proceeded to consider whether I-1053 was constitutional. He determined that it was not.

The takeaway is that this case – the LEV case –  is dissimilar in important ways from Brown v. Owen, contrary to what Tim Eyman has said. In Brown, the Senate Majority Leader asked the Supreme Court itself to reach the issue of I-960’s constitutionality by granting her application for a writ of mandamus. The Court deemed the request improper, so it did not consider whether I-96o was constitutional (I-1053, its successor, was not in effect at the time). In LEV, a diverse coalition of plaintiffs went to a trial court first for declaratory relief, which was granted. No writ of mandamus was asked for.

On to Eyman’s second reason:

EYMAN: In 1994, the Court found that individual legislators and special interest groups lack standing to bring lawsuits like this (“When a statute may be amended by the very persons the Petitioners claim are being harmed, state legislators, we cannot do otherwise than find that this is only a speculative dispute.”).

Attorney General Rob McKenna’s office made this same argument to Judge Heller in urging that the case be dismissed, but Judge Heller found that the plaintiffs did, in fact, have standing. Here is his reasoning:

Plaintiffs have established standing to bring this action. A plaintiff has standing to challenge a statute’s constitutionality if he or she can show that (1) the “interest sought to be protected . . is arguably within the zone of interests to be protected or regulated by the statute or constitutional guarantee in question” and (2) a “sufficient factual injury.” Seattle School Dist., 90 Wn.2d at 493-94. The legislator plaintiffs have an interest in advancing bills through the legislative process with the constitutionally required number of votes. The non-legislator plaintiffs have an interest in the adequate funding of education. The legislator plaintiffs allege that they have suffered injury because they have been unable to address funding gaps in education. The plaintiffs from the educational community allege that cuts in educational funding and services have resulted in substantial harm to educators, teachers, students and education groups, such as the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs Kim Bielski and Ryan Painter, for example, are teachers who lost their jobs as a result of budget cuts.

On to Eyman’s third reason:

EYMAN: The tax increase they tried to pass last year was approved this year, arguably making their current lawsuit moot.

It’s telling that Eyman threw in the word “arguably”. This lawsuit is far from being moot. As Eyman well knows, the purpose of the two-thirds scheme is to allow a minority of legislators to undemocratically wield veto power over bills that raise revenue. The two-thirds scheme has been used – and will continue to be used – to block legislation that would fund vital state services if it is not struck down. As Judge Heller notes:

Since Walker, 18 years have passed. During this time, except for brief periods when the legislature suspended it, the supermajority requirement has been in effect. In McCleary, the Supreme Court described the legislature’s inability to fund constitutionally required basic K-12 education. 173 Wn.2d at 532-37. SBH 2078, which would have provided funds to reduce K-3 class size, failed to pass in the House because of the supermajority requirement. The inability of the House to pass this legislation with a simple majority demonstrates that the dispute over the constitutionality of the supermajority requirement is an actual one with known consequences.

On to Eyman’s fourth reason:

EYMAN: Lawsuits like this aren’t valid if the Legislature doesn’t exhaust all their remedies before going to court. They could have appealed the ruling of the Chair and passed the tax increase; they didn’t.

Again, contrary to what Eyman implies, the Legislature is not the plaintiff in this case. The plaintiffs are a coalition of groups and individuals, of which the League of Education Voters (LEV) is named first. The League and its members are not legislators; they did not have the ability to appeal the ruling of the presiding officer of the House of Representatives (who, incidentally, holds the title of Speaker, not Chair).

Rob McKenna’s legal team made this same argument in Superior Court as well (noticing a pattern here?), and Judge Heller shot it down:

According to the State [represented by Rob McKenna’s office], under House rules a majority of the legislators could have overruled the Speaker’s ruling that RCW 43.135.034(1) required the vote of two-thirds of the members and passed SHB 2078 by a majority.

This argument reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the respective roles of the judiciary and the legislature. It is for the courts, not the legislature, to determine the constitutionality of a statute. Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137, 177 (1803)(“It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is”). Our Supreme Court affirmed this principle in Brown, emphasizing that under the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers, the legislature may not rule a law it has enacted to be unconstitutional. 165 Wn.2d at 726-27. Accordingly, this court will not require the legislature to pass a tax bill in contravention of the statute’s supermajority requirement as a precondition for the court’s exercising jurisdiction over this dispute.

Phew. Okay, we’re almost done. Here’s the fifth reason on Eyman’s list:

EYMAN: A law is constitutional unless the Constitution expressly prohibits it. Our Constitution does not.

This is not how constitutional law works. A statute that conflicts with any part of the Constitution is unconstitutional, period. Article I, Section 29 declares:

The provisions of this Constitution are mandatory, unless by express words they are declared to be otherwise.

For instance:

SECTION 22. PASSAGE OF BILLS. No bill shall become a law unless on its final passage the vote be taken by yeas and nays, the names of the members voting for and against the same be entered on the journal of each house, and a majority of the members elected to each house be recorded thereon as voting in its favor.

The crux of the dispute in this case is whether I-1053 violates the above provision (Article II, Section 22), as well as Article II, Section 1.

Judge Heller found that I-1053 violates both provisions.

One more to go! Number six:

EYMAN: For a lawsuit to be valid, the dispute must be “between parties having genuine and opposing interests” that are “direct and substantial.”  The Attorney General has a job to do, defend initiatives, but in my view, their office lacks the direct and substantial interest needed to surpass this threshold.

We’re not sure what point Eyman is attempting to make here. Whose “office” is he referring to when he says “their office”? There is more than one plaintiff, and many of the plaintiffs are not elected officials. As we’ve already observed, this dispute is over a matter that is in fact real and justiciable. That is precisely why Judge Heller granted the plaintiffs the declaratory relief they asked for back in May.

To quote Judge Heller one final time:

A justiciable controversy is one that is (1) an actual, present, and existing dispute, (2) between parties having genuine and opposing interests, (3) which interests are direct and substantial, and (4) a judicial determination of which will be final and conclusive. To-Ro Trade Shows, 144 Wn.2d at 411. The parties in this matter plainly have genuinely and opposing interests, and a judicial ruling on the constitutionality of the supermajority and mandatory referendum requirements will constitute a final and conclusive resolution of this dispute.

We agree with Judge Heller. This argument has been festering for years; it is time for the matter to be resolved. As established in Marbury v. Madison long ago, only the courts have the ability to decide whether a law is constitutional or not. The plaintiffs in this lawsuit are asking the Supreme Court to consider whether I-1053 violates longstanding provisions of our state’s highest law, including Article II, Section 22. They are not asking the Court to settle a parliamentary dispute in the Legislature.

Several months ago, the Court had an opportunity to stay Judge Heller’s decision when it took up the case. It did not, even though it was asked to by Rob McKenna. That means that I-1053 is currently not in effect. Here’s a question worth pondering: If the justices felt that Heller’s decision was way off base, wouldn’t they have granted McKenna’s request for a stay? It is not unusual for such requests to be granted.

And yet, in this instance, the Court said no. They have let Heller’s decision stand even as they take up the matter. That gives us reason to hope that they will ultimately uphold his decision, striking down this two-thirds nonsense once and for all.

POSTSCRIPT: It is worth mentioning that last month, Eyman himself asked a court of law for a writ of mandamus… he wanted to force the Office of Financial Management to retract its fiscal impact statement for Initiative 1185 and replace it with a statement saying there was no fiscal impact at all. The judge who heard the case turned Eyman down and threw out his suit. The irony of Eyman’s prayer for relief in that case was immediately apparent to us when we read the brief Eyman’s friends at Groen & Stephens helped him write… though it may not have been obvious to Eyman, who has a penchant for sponsoring unconstitutional initiatives.

Supreme Court agrees to hear appeal of Judge Heller’s decision in LEV v. State

In the Courts

As expected, the Washington State Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal of Judge Bruce Heller’s May decision striking down Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1053 in its entirety. The appeal was filed by Attorney General Rob McKenna’s office, which is defending the state against the lawsuit.

In a two-page order, the court unanimously accepted the case for review, but refused to grant McKenna’s request for a stay of Judge Heller’s decision. What that means is that Judge Heller’s decision will remain in force for the time being. I-1053 is not in effect; if Governor Gregoire called the Legislature into session next week, the Legislature could democratically raise revenue by majority vote like it’s supposed to be able to do.

The text of the order was as follows:

This matter came before the Court on its July 11, 2012, En Banc Conference and the Court having unanimously determined that the following order should be entered:

Now, therefore, it is hereby

ORDERED: The above reference matter will be retained for decision by the Supreme Court. The RESPONDENT’S MOTION FOR EXPEDITED REVIEW is granted. The STATE’S MOTION FOR STAY PENDING APPEAL is denied.

DATED at Olympia, Washington this 12th day of July, 2012.

For the Court,

Barbara Madsen
Chief Justice

The Court will likely hear oral arguments in the case sometime during the fall.

Tim Eyman backtracks on plan to run “Son of 1053” in 2012, now says it’s just one of several possibilities

Statements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

This Friday, we will be one month away from Permanent Defense’s ten year anniversary. During the last decade, we have devoted ourselves not only opposing Tim Eyman and his initiative factory, but watchdogging Eyman as well. And in that time, we’ve repeatedly caught Eyman telling his own followers and the press one thing after he had told them something very different just a few months earlier.

For instance, in 2006, we caught Eyman in a lie about the signature drive for Initiative 917, which never made the ballot. (Eyman blamed I-917’s failure on the Secretary of State, suggesting petitions had been “pilfered”, even though he was well aware that I-917 fell short because he didn’t pay for enough signatures to be collected).

It appears that once again, Eyman is being not being upfront with his supporters.

Shortly after New Year’s Day last year, Eyman laid out his plans for the next two years, blasting Governor Chris Gregoire for telling reporters she wasn’t going to allow the passage of I-1053 to dictate how she governed for the remainder of her term. Here’s a passage from his email, dated January 6th, 2011:

Four times the voters have approved the policies in I-1053. We’re going to give the voters their 5th opportunity in 2012. [Note: These figures are incorrect. There have been only three ballot measures having to do with instituting a two-thirds vote for tax increases: I-601, I-960, and I-1053. Eyman is dishonestly inflating the number].

So for the next two years, the voters will be watching Olympia to see if they got the message. If the Legislature and Governor abide by the will of the people in the next two legislative sessions, our 2012 initiative may not be as popular as I-1053. But if Olympia disregards, dismisses, or disrespects the policies, purposes, and clear intent of I-1053, the voters will surely renew I-1053’s policies a 5th time (and we’ll likely tighten the belt a notch tighter).

The following Monday (January 10th, 2011), Eyman held a press conference to affirm his plans to run a 1053 clone in 2012. Here is an exact quote from the middle of that press conference (which was attended by a number of reporters), just before Eyman staged his photo-op at the Secretary of State’s front desk.

We’re announcing today that we are filing an initiative to renew the two-thirds requirement for raising taxes [and] the requirement that the Legislature has to take a recorded vote in order to increase fees… We have learned from last year’s campaign that we weren’t able to raise enough money and organize things in one year in order to be able to get that initiative done. I took out a second mortgage on my house – that’s still outstanding – and so, we’re going to take the next two years in order to organize this effort to renew the two-thirds.

In the months that followed, Eyman sent out over a dozen emails asking his supporters for money to “renew the two-thirds” and to pay down the mortgage he took out to finance I-1053. When he unveiled Initiative 1125 on May 2nd, 2011 (which he later qualified for the ballot with Kemper Freeman’s money), he again explicitly recommitted to his pledge. From his email sent that day:

We had originally planned to simply reinstate the policies in I-1053 with a Son of 1053 initiative next year. WE’RE STILL GOING TO DO THAT.

But we’ve decided to do an initiative this year that addresses Olympia’s sidestepping of I-1053 but also brings a few urgent transportation policy decisions to the attention of the public.

However, in an email sent out to supporters yesterday, Eyman made no acknowledgment of his 2011 pledge, characterizing his plans for 2012 as “to be determined”. Here’s the relevant excerpt from the email:

 As for our initiative efforts in 2012, we want to see how the legislative session unfolds before deciding which initiative(s) will be pushed. On Friday, we filed 5 different initiatives (Son of 1053, Bring Back our $30 Car Tabs, Let the Voters Decide on Automatic Ticketing Cameras, Protect the Initiative Act, and Stop Government Fraud Act).  Each one tackles a serious public policy problem. There will likely be others. Which one(s) we’ll do in 2012 will be announced later. On several issues, Olympia isn’t listening to the people and so if they aren’t going to solve these problems, we’d like to give the voters the chance to.

So, just to recap: Tim Eyman appears to have downgraded his “Son of 1053” initiative from its status as the plan for 2012 – count on it! to Option A for 2012. Or B. Or whatever. What matters is this: Eyman has been asking his followers to give him money for an initiative he said was going to spend two years promoting. But now that initiative is just one of many initiatives that Eyman might push. What’s up with that?

A year ago, Tim Eyman stood in the foyer of Secretary of State Sam Reed’s office in the Legislative Building with Jack and Mike Fagan at his side and pledged to spend the next two years preparing to “renew the two-thirds”. We were there. We witnessed it. And we subsequently witnessed Eyman’s attempt to raise money for the effort. “We are raising funds for the next 2/3’s initiative,” Eyman said in a February 2nd, 2011 email to followers in which he declared he was “hitting the big panic button”.

If Eyman had actually leveled with his supporters and been totally honest, he would have said something along the lines of, “We’re raising money for my benefit. I’ll decide what to do with the money after  you give it to me. We might use some of it to do a Son of 1053, but we might not, because I could change my mind depending on whether a ‘super supporter’ steps up to help make this possible. Either way… please send your most generous contribution to me right now!”

But honesty is not what Tim Eyman is known for. He’s a master salesman with a gift for deception. His conscience is apparently three sizes (or maybe three hundred sizes) too small, because it only kicks in when he’s telling whoppers, and only after he’s been called out – as he was during the Initiative 747 campaign, when Christian Sinderman accused Eyman of pocketing his own supporters’ money for his personal use.

(Eyman lied to his supporters for months about taking the money before finally confessing the truth in February 2002.)

As we have amply documented above, Eyman told the press, the public, and his supporters last year that he was doing a “Son of 1053” initiative this year. He attempted to raise money for the effort. But evidently, the fundraising wasn’t going well, because Eyman quit talking about “raising funds for the next 2/3’s initiative” during the I-1125 campaign. And he’s not moving ahead with “Son of 1053” now.

It appears that privately, he is in now in auctioneer mode, attempting to sell his wares –  er, initiatives – to a sugar daddy, hence the “to be determined” posture. Eyman knows that without a sugar daddy, he can’t qualify “Son of 1053” – or any other initiative he might like to run – for the ballot. And he doesn’t want to mount a signature drive only to have it end in failure. So he is keeping his powder dry until he can close a sales pitch with a wealthy benefactor.

It’s probable than he’ll find someone… he got the gambling industry to finance I-892, Michael Dunmire to finance I-900/I-917/I-985/I-1033, big banks and oil companies to finance I-1053, and Kemper Freeman to finance I-1125.

Eyman could level with his followers about all this. But that would mean the press and the public would find out, too. He’d have to admit that his initiative factory isn’t grassroots. So he’s keeping his own people in the dark. Pretty sad.

Whatever happened to “Let the voters decide?”

Statements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

Earlier today, in lieu of holding a press conference at Secretary of State Sam Reed’s office in the Legislative Building to discuss his plans for 2012, Tim Eyman drafted and began sending out an email to his followers (and the press) announcing that he intends to be active in opposing any and all efforts to raise revenue in the Legislature during the sixty-day session that begins today and will last until at least mid-March.

Emphasis is ours:

One of our top priorities in 2012 is beating back tax increases (hence our PAC’s name change to:  Voters Want More Choices “No New Taxes 2012”). That means fighting against the umpteen bills being pushed in Olympia to raise taxes (Democrats’ new income tax bill, Democrats’ new property tax increase, Democrats’ new capital gains tax bill).

But we feel it is particularly important for us to take the lead in opposing the two tax increases being put on the ballot (Gregoire’s 10% sales tax on the April ballot and her task force’s $21 billion tax increase on the November ballot). We don’t want them increased in Olympia and we don’t want them put on the ballot (and if they are put on the ballot, we want voters to vote no).

That last sentence sure is a doozy, isn’t it? But at least Tim Eyman is being honest for a change. For years, he’s falsely said or implied that he doesn’t want to make raising revenue impossible – merely difficult. He’s also said or implied that he has no objection to elected leaders asking voters to raise revenue. For instance, in 2002, just days before Permanent Defense was founded, he told the Seattle Weekly:

We’ve always contended that any tax increase that any taxing district wants to support is fine, as long as it goes to the voters.

But today, we’ve seen Tim Eyman’s true colors. Mr. “Let the Voters Decide” has just said, plainly and unequivocally, that he is against letting voters decide whether to save services that are on the chopping block. He doesn’t want to put the matter in the people’s hands. His direct democracy evangelism is a sham, and this is simply the latest proof. A true citizens should be in in charge missionary would welcome the Legislature’s interest in referring a question on any topic of importance to the people. But the initiative and referendum, to Eyman, are simply a means to an end… the end being the destruction of Washington’s common wealth.

Inflicting sabotage is always what Eyman’s initiative factory has been about. All of his initiatives have been deliberately written to cause harm.

As Eyman’s own words demonstrate, there are no circumstances under which his dogma – which he shares with his idol Grover Norquist – condone taxes being raised.

It doesn’t matter that our social safety net is in danger of being eviscerated. It doesn’t matter that Washington is failing to adequately provide for the education of its youth, as our state Supreme Court just ruled. It doesn’t matter that the state and its many local governments continue to lay off public workers, making our unemployment problem even worse. As far as Tim Eyman is concerned, an all-cuts budget would be welcome news. In fact, his goal is to ensure that this happens… he wants Washington’s government wrecked so it cannot serve its people.

The remaining reporters who still cover state affairs as part of the Capitol press corps owe it to their readers to challenge and expose Eyman when he masquerades as a proponent of direct democracy with fake slogans such as “let the people decide”. Empowerment and self-determination are the opposite of Eyman’s real agenda, and the media ought to know that by now.

RE: Given the state’s newest revenue forecast…

Legislation & TestimonyRethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Washington’s Legislature passed a budget last spring that relied on revenue forecasts which were too optimistic. The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council yesterday projected that the state will collect $1.4 billion less in taxes between now and 2013 than it had previously estimated.

Consequently, Governor Gregoire and lawmakers must now figure out how to close yet another deficit, after having already eliminated or slashed vital public services earlier this year.

Unless the governor and lawmaker decide to raise revenue to close the shortfall, there is no way that this deficit can be closed without hurting the lives of Washington families, especially seniors, youth, and veterans. We are the past the point, figuratively speaking, where we are scraping bone as a state, in terms of our public services. Without new revenue, we’ll have to chop off limbs.

The governor and state lawmakers ought to call upon those who fiercely oppose raising revenue – including Tim Eyman and his corporate allies – and insist that they help write a modified state budget. The time has come for the people responsible for bringing us Initiative 1053 to take responsibility for the consequences stemming from the outcome of the election they bought.

Tim Eyman has turned himself into a full-time citizen – sorry, make that corporate – lawmaker. If lawmaking is what he wants to do, then he needs to be accountable like any other lawmaker. We have a fiscal emergency.

This is an all hands on deck situation.

We at NPI propose that the state begin closing this $1.4 billion shortfall by sunsetting outdated and unnecessary tax loopholes.

For instance, there is a loophole on our books now which allows Wall Street banks to avoid paying business and occupation taxes on the interest or investment earnings made from the interest from residential first mortgages. There are dozens upon dozens of loopholes like this that could be closed, which could save what is left of our public services from being further eviscerated.

If Tim Eyman and his sympathizers do not want to raise revenue as we propose, then they must spell out what they want to cut. That is the only other choice. Eyman said today, “With I-1053, tax increases become an absolute last resort… Olympia must exhaust all other options first. That’s what the people want.”

Actually, what people want is for the economy to get better. But it won’t as long we keep wrecking government and destroying public services, which is the only course of action that I-1053 was designed to allow.

We encourage reporters and lawmakers to take every opportunity to ask Tim Eyman: What “other options” do you have in mind?

Should we cut off our universities and colleges and say, “You’re on your own! No more state money!” Should we begin releasing prison inmates early? Should we end Apple Health or Disability Lifeline entirely?

As a state, we can either move forward or slide backward. We can move forward by raising revenue to save vital public services that we all depend on. Or, we can slide backward by eliminating services, laying off more public workers, and abandoning people who desperately need help.

There isn’t a third choice.

Our elected lawmakers have spent the last decade backfilling like crazy, cleaning up after unelected lawmakers like Tim Eyman. Well, the days when we could backfill and mitigate the ramifications Eyman’s initiatives are over.

Now come the days of reckoning.

For too long, Governor Gregoire and lawmakers have tried to ignore Tim Eyman because they haven’t wanted to confront him.

But we need a confrontation. Washingtonians need to be given an opportunity to think about what kind of state they want to live in before the governor and Legislature play TimCity for real. If Eyman and his corporate backers want a budget with no new revenue in it, they need to help write that budget. The governor and state lawmakers should insist that they participate in identifying cuts.

And reporters should start replying to every email Tim Eyman sends with a simple one-liner: Hey Tim… what do you think we should cut?

Tim Eyman blows a gasket after learning of bipartisan deal to save King County Metro

Statements & Advisories

On a day when people across King County are happy – happy that representative democracy at the regional level is working and overcoming obstacles, happy that our elected leaders have come up with a solution to protect Metro, a vital public service – Tim Eyman is angry, even though he doesn’t even live in King County.

See, Tim delights in creating chaos. Making messes. Wrecking government so it can’t work like it’s supposed to. So, when he sees public officials teaming together to navigate around land mines planted by him or his sympathizers, it makes him upset. Very upset. He tends to lose his cool and lash out.

Today was no exception.

Eyman’s fury was directed in particular towards the two Republican councilmembers who signed on to the agreement announced today by Executive Dow Constantine to save Metro: Jane Hague and Kathy Lambert. Both represent broad swaths of the Eastside, and both had been fiercely lobbied by Metro riders to support raising vehicle fees to offset painful cuts to service.

Eyman, who first gained notoriety for trying to slash vehicle fees statewide, had previously praised both for indicating they would not join Democrats in voting to save Metro. But today, he was harshly vilifying them with a special scorn he usually reserves for progressive Democrats.

The subject line of Eyman’s email alone was a doozy. It read:

RE: Hague & Lambert flip-flop for lollipops — 2 King County Republicans cut a deal with Dow, screwing us out of our $30 car tabs in exchange for earmarked pork — worse, they’ve lied about it for months.

The first-person plural reference is pretty cute. Eyman acts as if he lives in King County. But he doesn’t. He likes in Mukilteo, which is part of Snohomish County. That means he won’t have to pay the higher vehicle fees. So why should he care? Well, here’s one reason: Both of his top two all-time wealthy benefactors (Michael Dunmire and Kemper Freeman Jr.) live in King County.

Perhaps he feels that he must be publicly enraged on their behalf.

The body of the Mukilteo profiteer’s message basically accused Hague and Lambert of behaving like, well… Tim Eyman.

[T]hey’ve been lying for months.  They lied to the media, lied to constituents, lied to all of you.  It’s totally sleazy under any circumstances — ignoring the voters’ ballot box mandate — but it’s beyond the pale to sell their council votes in exchange for pork barrel earmarks.

The agreement to save Metro doesn’t actually include any earmarks… in fact, it dispenses with the 40/40/20 formula that used to benefit the Eastside at Seattle’s expense. But of course, Tim Eyman doesn’t care about the details. What he cares about is that two Republicans are cooperating with some Democrats to save a vital public service. Instead of showing fealty to him and his uncompromising ideology of destruction, they’re listening to their constituents. And that’s a no-no.

Memo to the Seattle Times: Majority vote means fifty percent plus one – no more, no less!

Election PostmortemIn the CourtsRethinking and Reframing

The following is the text of the letter to the editor sent by NPI to the Seattle Times in response to the Times’ Sunday editorial urging the state Supreme Court not to strike down I-1053 if it receives an opportunity to do so.

In your Sunday, June 5th editorial (State’s two-thirds rule on taxes should be retained), you contend that Tim Eyman and BP’s Initiative 1053 (which violates Article II, Section 22) could pass constitutional muster:

The constitution does say a majority, but it uses negative language. It says, ‘No bill shall become a law’ without a majority. The state’s Republican attorney general, Rob McKenna, argues that this sets a minimum standard, and that the voters, through the initiative process, may temporarily raise it.

A similar argument was made by proponents of a 1053-like measure in Alaska several years ago, and rejected by Alaska’s Supreme Court in Alaskans for Efficient Government v. State of Alaska (2007). “Other courts interpreting constitutional language have wisely refrained from attributing any automatic significance to the distinction between negative and positive phrasing,” the Court ruled.

Referring to the proponents (Alaskans for Efficient Government), the Court added:

AFEG’s logic would just as readily compel the anomalous conclusion that section 14 was meant to set a ceiling but not a floor — that a majority vote would be the maximum needed to enact any bill, but the legislature would remain free to specify a sub-majority vote as sufficient to enact laws dealing with specified subjects, as it saw fit.

Majority vote means fifty percent plus one. No more, no less. There is no minimum standard. There is only the standard the founders intended – the only standard that makes sense in a democracy.

Our founders knew when it was appropriate to use supermajorities to protect minority rights from mob rule. Wherever a supermajority is required, the Constitution spells it out. But there is no reference to supermajorities in Article II, Section 22. That’s because the founders intended for a majority vote to decide the fate of all bills – not just some bills.

Initiative 1053 is a slippery slope. Unless it is struck down, we will not be protected against future copycat measures that undemocratically tie lawmakers’ hands and prevent our republic from functioning as it was designed to.

The Times gravely errs in attempting to justify its support of an initiative that dangerously undermines our plan of government.

POSTSCRIPT: The Seattle Times has published this letter online.

Tim Eyman’s desperation is showing

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

This afternoon, Tim Eyman sent out a fourth consecutive email begging for money and instructing his followers to send messages of condemnation to NPI’s founder, Andrew Villeneuve, and Olympia City Council candidate Brian Tomlinson. Andrew composed the following statement in response.

After all these years, it’s kinda funny that we have suddenly become the object of Tim’s attention. His desperation is showing. We simply pointed out that the gears of his initiative factory cannot turn without cash from a wealthy benefactor, something we’ve said previously on many occasions. If you read his emails – which he claims to have carbon copied to the press and to lawmakers – you’ll notice he does not even attempt to refute what we’re saying. That’s because he knows he can’t. If he tried, he’d be contradicting his own reporting to the PDC.

So instead, he’s playing the victim. Trying to make it look like we’re picking on him. According to Eyman, we are “arrogant” and “hate-filled” and our reports on his activities amount to “gloating”. (Other nouns and adjectives Eyman has used include: anger, spite, negativity, ugliness, vile, mocking).

And, of course, Eyman describes his own followers as “coming back with grace and good humor”. That’s an interesting choice of words, considering we have received several obscenity-laden emails from Eyman followers, some of whom can’t even spell their hero’s name correctly. Oddly enough, Tim hasn’t shared those.

Eyman has also described his supporters as passionate. That’s a characterization that my team and I can agree with, and respect. We’re passionate too: passionate about protecting Washington’s common wealth, our quality of life, and our tradition of majority rule, which has served us well since statehood.

We believe Tim knows full well that we try to practice what we preach at NPI. We do not publish people’s private contact information online for the world to see. We do not lace what we publish with profanity. We do not wish harm upon people we disagree with. Our Code of Ethics forbids it.

And yet, Tim has repeatedly suggested that we’re full of hate.

Why is he doing this? Because he needs money. He chose to put himself in debt to get I-1053 on the ballot. Now he’s trying to pay it off, and raise money for his next initiative campaign at the same time. It’s been slow going. And so he’s getting desperate. A few weeks ago, he told his followers that he was ‘hitting the big panic button’, trying to compel them to open their checkbooks.

Now he’s on to his next gimmick: Using us as a punching bag. He figures his followers are more likely to give him money if they’re riled up, versus being calm. Perhaps he’ll get a few checks out of this, but we seriously doubt these gimmicks will help him secure the money that he really needs.

He just doesn’t have the huge base of support he claims to have.

If history is any indication, Eyman will not be back on the statewide ballot until he has a sugar daddy again – old or new. We think it’s likely Eyman will ultimately find a new wealthy benefactor.

What else is he going to do? Go back to selling fraternity wristwatches? In the meantime, it looks like we the taxpayers may be able to save some money on elections costs, which is great. We need every penny we can get these days.

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