Tag Archives: I-976

Initiative 976 is an initiative to the 2019 Legislature proposed by Tim Eyman. It seeks to wipe out billions of dollars in funding for Sound Transit Link light rail expansion, Amtrak Cascades, and WSDOT. Permanent Defense is working to defeat I-976 in partnership with allies who agree that these vital investments must be protected. Join us at no976.org.

Must-read article: King County struggles to fund roads and bridges

Rethinking and ReframingThreat Analysis

Journalist Aaron Kunkler has written an excellent article for Reporter Newspapers that nicely summarizes King County’s rural roads funding crisis, a problem rooted partially in the implementation of several Tim Eyman initiatives just after the turn of the century.

It’s a must-read:

Funding for roads and bridges in King County has been dwindling for years, and despite warnings as far back as 2014, money for capital investments in unincorporated areas is still set to run out within the next six years.

The scope of the problem has been well documented in various studies, including the 2017 annual bridges report released last August. The county owns or maintains 182 bridges that range in age from 10 to 100 years old, with the median age being 65 — or 15 years older than their typical useful lifespan.

Due to declining revenue between 2012 and 2018, no new standalone bridge replacements have occurred since 2014, and work is focused exclusively on daily safety and maintenance work, the report found. King County Local Services department public information officer Brent Champaco said when money for capital improvements runs out, other basic maintenance and operations services will be reduced to stay within budget.

The article goes on to talk about Republican King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert’s long running effort to draw attention to the crisis. Lambert represents the 3rd District, a mix of suburban and rural communities in northeast King County.

The 3rd includes a significant swath of rural King County, including the town of Skykomish, which is accessible only by travel through Snohomish County. The other predominantly rural King County Council district is the 9th, represented by Reagan Dunn.

Lambert has been on the Council for decades and has seen the impact that Tim Eyman’s destructive initiatives have had on her constituents, particularly these three measures, which Eyman got past voters early on his career:

  • Initiative 695 (passed in 1999, struck down in 2000, and reinstated that same year): Gutted the statewide motor vehicle excise tax
  • Initiative 747 (passed in 2001, implemented that same year, struck down in 2007, then almost immediately reinstated): Artificially caps property taxes
  • Initiative 776 (passed in 2002, partially upheld in 2003): Repealed the local motor vehicle excise tax collected by King, Snohomish, Pierce, and Douglas counties

Implementation of all three of these initiatives significantly reduced funding for essential public services in Washington State, including rural roads.

I-695 repealed an estimated $1.1 billion in the 1999-2001 biennium and $1.7 billion in the 2001-03 biennium. Before the motor vehicle excise tax was gutted, 24% of the revenue it was generating was going to local governments like King County, 29% was going to local transit agencies, and 47% was going to state-level transportation needs, according to the Office of Financial Management’s I-695 Fiscal Impact Statement.

When I-747 came along a short while later, it began a long and tortuous cycle of death by a thousand cuts that continues to this day. Cities and counties are still hurting from the combined one-two punch of I-695 and I-747 more than a decade and a half later.

Four counties, including King County, were dealt a third punch in 2002 with Tim Eyman’s I-776, which eliminated the local motor vehicle excise tax.

Seattle Times reporter Keith Ervin described the impact of Eyman’s I-776 on the county’s rural roads in an article published on November 12th, 2003. Here’s an excerpt:

A staff report to the Metropolitan King County Council yesterday said the ruling has made County Executive Ron Sims’ proposed roads budget “inoperable.” The Supreme Court last month upheld the constitutionality of voter-approved I-776, which rolls back car tabs to $30 a year.

The measure shuts off a yearly $4.8 million revenue stream for King County.

Sims has placed on hold his earlier proposal to set $11.3 million in road money aside as an incentive for cities that agree to annex unincorporated urban areas. The county also may postpone or scrap the sale of $80 million in bonds that would have sped up long-awaited road improvements.

Budget director Steve Call said yesterday the impact will be more severe than the initial revenue loss suggests because the county road fund is used to finance bonds and obtain matching funds from the federal and state governments. On bridge projects, the federal government pays up to 80 percent of the cost, Call said.

Among the projects at risk are expansion of Coal Creek Parkway and Novelty Hill Road on the Eastside, and an improved intersection of Benson Road and Carr Road near Renton.

“We all need to sit back and go back to the drawing table and figure out where our construction projects are,” Call said. “This has put a huge hole in the region’s ability to address transportation needs.”

While officials haven’t precisely calculated the impact of several voter-approved tax cuts, County Council budget analyst Rebecha Cusack said the road-construction fund might be reduced by 20 percent over the next six years.

The County Council’s budget chairman, Larry Phillips, D-Seattle, said the county’s ability to improve roads fund will be “devastated” by I-776 and by Initiative 747, which caps the growth in property taxes to 1 percent a year.

While elected leaders across jurisdictions have tried gamely to backfill budget holes caused by destructive Eyman initiatives like I-695, I-747, and I-776, they have not been able to restore funding levels to a sufficient level for all services. That has resulted in facility closures, deferred maintenance, and failure to replace aging structures.

Arguably no public service has been harder hit than rural roads.

While cities like Seattle have secured voter approval for transportation levies like Bridging the Gap and Move Seattle, small unincorporated communities have been left bereft of needed investments. Many of these communities are represented by Republicans who are reluctant or unwilling to speak out publicly against Eyman’s bad ideas (and the harm caused by his past initiatives) for fear of retribution by Eyman’s small but vocal band of right wing activists, which includes many Republican PCOs.

Not content with the damage he has already caused, Eyman has proposed Initiative 976, which would repeal funding for Amtrak Cascades, freight mobility, Sound Transit 3 system expansion, King County Metro service hours, and yes, road maintenance and street repairs in sixty cities. Eyman makes it sound in his talking points like he’s only targeting Sound Transit, but that’s a lie. Rural roads are once again going to take a hit if Eyman’s Initiative 976 isn’t defeated this November.

To learn more and join the coalition fighting Eyman’s latest awful initiative, visit no976.org.

RE: Ensuring “balanced and fair” media coverage of Tim Eyman’s I-976

From the Campaign TrailRethinking and Reframing

This morning, Tim Eyman sent out an email grumbling about a story that KING5 ran on its website yesterday regarding the fiscal impact that his latest freedom of mobility destroying initiative would have on Sound Transit’s voter approved projects. Although the story was accompanied by a clip of an earlier KING5 segment that extensively featured Eyman and framed the issue in his favor, Eyman nevertheless cried foul.

Wrote Eyman: “Someone forwarded me a KING5 story after-the-fact about Sound Transit putting out something on our Initiative I-976. The story had nothing from the other side. That’s unfortunate. In the interests of balance and fairness, I would ask folks in the media to please call me and email me and allow me opportunity to respond.”

Actually, what’s truly unfortunate is that a not insignificant percentage of the coverage of I-976’s final signature turn in and qualification has lacked any opposition perspective at all, resulting in extremely favorable, one-sided stories benefiting Tim Eyman.

For example, this article, which appeared on the websites of many local newspapers around the state (Lake Chelan Mirror, Lewis County Chronicle, South Whidbey Record, Sequim Gazette, etc.) did not offer any opposition perspective or analysis of the impacts of I-976 whatsoever:

‘Bring Back Our $30 Car Tabs’ Initiative Could Be on November Ballot

By Emma Epperly, WNPA Olympia News Bureau

“Bring Back Our $30 Car Tabs,” an initiative that would limit annual motor-vehicle registration fees to $30 except for voter-approved charges, was sent to the Legislature for consideration by the Secretary of State.

Initiative 976 received enough signatures to potentially make it to the November 2019 ballot. The initiative can take three different pathways by either being approved as is by Legislators, by Legislators passing on the initiative and it being voted on by the public, or by Legislators passing an alternative, in which case voters would choose between the two versions in November.

I- 976 also would repeal, reduce, or remove the ability to impose a variety of vehicle taxes and fees except for those that are voter approved. It would also require the use of Kelley Blue Book values as a basis for vehicle taxes.

Tim Eyman is the lobbyist behind the initiative, who has been proposing and passing a variety of initiatives since 1999 with Initiative 695: Washington Voter Approval for Tax Increases. I 695 limited license tab fees to $30 and was overturned by the Washington Supreme Court in 2000 because it was not limited to one subject, a requirement of all initiatives.

Eyman wants I- 976 to pass “so that every vehicle owner in the state of Washington would write a check for 30 dollars each year to register their vehicle and cap it so that state government can’t jack it up and local government can’t jack it up,” he said.

According to Eyman, 61 cities in Washington have imposed vehicle fees.

Eyman has proposed a host of bills that all get at one issue. “Big picture, it’s less about the money and more about respecting the decisions voters make,” said Eyman.

Meanwhile, Tim Eyman’s friends on talk radio (like Dori Monson and John Carlson), have neglected to seek out an opposition perspective, even after having Eyman as their on-air guest many times to promote his initiative.

Monson and Carlson may be commentators as opposed to reporters striving for objectivity, but why not afford their listeners an opportunity to hear the case against Eyman’s proposal?

The public will never hear an accounting of the impacts from Eyman because his position is that there just wouldn’t be any.

Eyman’s “Chicken Little” sneers notwithstanding, I-976 would wipe out billions in funding for transportation projects at every level (state, regional, and local). All Washingtonians would be negatively affected.

Our one page, downloadable fact sheet summarizes the many essential services that would take a hit with implementation of I-976.

The team at the Northwest Progressive Institute and the NO on I-976 Coalition (which includes a growing list of organizations like All Aboard Washington, The Urbanist, and 350 Seattle) greatly appreciates all the reporters and media outlets who have tried to incorporate the perspectives of both sides into their reporting instead of just Eyman’s side… like Drew Mikkelsen and Kipp Robertson of KING5.

For Washingtonians to cast an informed vote on I-976 in the coming general election, they need to hear more than just Tim Eyman’s deceptive slogans and talking points.

It is absolutely essential that everyone understand that Eyman’s intent with I-976 is to wipe out funding for transit, local roads, ferries, freight mobility, and multimodal infrastructure… not save drivers money.

Consider that Eyman could have chosen to target tolls or fuel taxes with his latest initiative, which many drivers pay every week or even every weekday. He didn’t. Instead, he’s focused on vehicle fees. Why? Because vehicle fees are a major revenue source for non-highway transportation projects in Washington… projects Eyman (a zealous “road warrior”) doesn’t believe in since they don’t give him more pavement to drive his car on.

Then consider Eyman has been trying to qualify I-976 for three years running now. Sound Transit is, by Eyman’s own admission, his white whale. He’s obsessed with its destruction.

He’s openly admitted this when speaking in front of friendly audiences. For instance, in a March 1st, 2016 appearance before the Eastside Republican Club in Bellevue, Eyman said:

“I love the idea of every voter in the state being able to register their vehicle for a flat-rate, easy to understand $30, but what gets me giddy is the idea of ripping the heart out of Sound Transit. This agency is so unaccountable, so rogue, so completely devoid of any reality that this is our one chance to be able to gut them like a pig, and that’s what I really love about this initiative.”

Emphasis is ours.

Eyman was unable to qualify an initiative in 2016 or 2017 to rip the heart of Sound Transit, but he didn’t stop trying.

With I-976 destined for the November ballot, it’s imperative that we have a substantive conversation about the impacts so everyone understands how our communities will lose if this measure is implemented. We encourage reporters, editors, and producers to study the measure carefully and ensure that audiences are aware of the damage I-976 will inflict in places that are far away from Sound Transit’s jurisdiction, especially communities in central, eastern, and southwest Washington.

Statement in response to qualification of Tim Eyman’s I-976

From the Campaign Trail

This afternoon, Secretary of State Kim Wyman announced that Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976 has qualified as an initiative to the Legislature for 2019. According to Wyman’s office, 19,738 petition sheets were submitted for I-976 bearing 352,093 signatures. (The current requirement for qualification is 259,622 valid signatures; sponsors are advised to submit at least 325,000 signatures to offset duplicate and invalid signatures.)

I-976 seeks to repeal vehicle fees at the state, regional, and local levels, which would devastate funding for essential services like Amtrak Cascades (a joint service funded by the people of the States of Washington and Oregon, which provides Washington’s only rail link with Vancouver, British Columbia) and freight mobility.

I-976 also attempts to imperil Sound Transit’s voter-approved ST3 system expansion package by repealing one of ST3’s three funding sources. This could result in light rail, commuter rail, express bus, and bus rapid transit projects being reduced or scaled back.

The destruction wouldn’t stop there, I-976 further seeks to repeal the statutes that allow ferry districts and transportation benefit districts to levy vehicle fees for local projects. Sixty cities of all sizes on both sides of the Cascades currently rely on vehicle fees for projects our communities need.

Most of those cities (for example, Anacortes) use their vehicle fee revenue to fund road maintenance and street improvements. Seattle, the state’s largest city, uses its voter-approved fee revenue to fund King County Metro service hours that are helping riders cope with the current closure of State Route 99 through the city’s downtown core.

Northwest Progressive Institute Founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve — who has seventeen years of experience organizing opposition to Eyman initiatives — issued the following statement in response to the announcement that I-976 has qualified as an initiative to the Legislature for 2019.

“Tim Eyman’s I-976 is a recipe for horrific highway gridlock, derelict roads, and stranded travelers,” said Villeneuve. “It would eliminate essential services that Washingtonians depend on, especially in rural areas, jeopardizing freedom of mobility and eliminating good paying jobs in construction and the building trades. This initiative is a wrecking ball aimed squarely at the vital multimodal transportation infrastructure we’ve been working hard to build.”

“If we don’t stop I-976, then the bipartisan progress we’ve made over the last decade and a half towards better connecting Washington will be halted and reversed. We simply cannot afford this destructive initiative.”

“Fortunately, a broad and diverse coalition is forming to give Eyman’s I-976 the vigorous opposition it deserves. We invite Washingtonians of all political affiliations who value freedom of mobility and good roads to join us in working for the defeat of I-976. Every day, we hear from more people and organizations who are gravely concerned about the impact I-976 would have, and are ready to take action to protect the essential services it seeks to harm. We’re encouraged by this response and believe that by working together, we the people of Washington can defeat I-976.”

For additional information, please visit no976.org.

Washington State Democratic Party takes position opposing Eyman’s I-976

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign TrailThreat Analysis

Good news: The Washington State Democratic Party has formally declared its opposition to Tim Eyman’s latest attempt to wipe out transit funding at the state, regional, and local level. The party yesterday went on record against I-976 at its autumn meeting in Spokane.

The motion unanimously adopted by the party’s governing central committee — which consists principally of two individuals from each county and two individuals from each legislative district in the state — reads as follows:

RESOLVED: That the Washington State Democratic Party take a position opposing Tim Eyman’s I-976, an initiative to the Legislature for 2019, which seeks to wipe out funding for Amtrak Cascades and Sound Transit 3 plus transit service and multimodal projects at the city level, and urges all Washingtonians to decline to sign if approached by a petitioner.

I-976 is Eyman’s fourth attempt in three years to gut voter-approved transit projects he’s obsessed with destroying, chiefly Sound Transit’s Link light rail expansion. However, Eyman’s I-976 wouldn’t just hurt Sound Transit. It would also rip away funding for sidewalks, road improvements, and bus service at the city level. The state’s largest cities (Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma) all utilize vehicle fees for transportation improvements within their boundaries, and so do small cities like East Wenatchee and Clarkston.

Eyman has until January 4th, 2019 to collect and turn in signatures for the measure. NPI expects it to qualify and is working to ensure that it goes down to defeat should it appear before voters in October/November of 2019.

NPI congratulates Sound Transit on East Link tunnel breakthrough in downtown Bellevue

AnnouncementsStatements & Advisories

Construction on Sound Transit’s vitally important East Link light rail extension reached an important milestone this week when contractors digging a tunnel under downtown Bellevue broke through to daylight at the future site of the station that will serve the city’s central core. The hole-through was expected to take place at the end of 2018, but construction has gone so well that it happened five months ahead of schedule.

Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve congratulated Sound Transit on the breakthrough, noting that expansion of the region’s light rail spine is crucial to the realization of a future that will enable Puget Sound residents to enjoy greater freedom of mobility.

“As a future East Link rider, I’m thrilled to see the progress that Sound Transit and its contracting teams have made on this vitally important project,” Villeneuve said.

“Light rail will revolutionize not only cross-lake travel between Seattle and the Eastside, but also commutes and trips between Eastside neighborhoods. It’s truly reassuring to see girders and columns rising up along each part of the alignment, from Judkins Park to Mercer Island to Bellevue to Redmond, NPI’s hometown.”

East Link (which was approved in 2008 as part of Sound Transit 2) may be on track and headed for completion, but other communities are at risk of losing the voter-approved Link expansion they voted for, Villeneuve warned.

“Two years ago, our region decided to invest in transit options that we know will give people an alternative to sitting in traffic. We voted to expand light rail in four directions as well as add more express bus, commuter rail, and bus rapid transit service,” Villeneuve said. “Sadly, Tim Eyman and other Sound Transit 3 opponents do not respect the will of the voters and are seeking not only to sabotage Sound Transit 3, but to wipe out funding for Amtrak Cascades plus local roads, sidewalks, and bus service with Initiative 976.”

“At NPI, we are mobilizing to fight this threat to our transit investments. Implementation of I-976 would cause catastrophic damage to every part of Washington State — from Spokane to Kelso and Anacortes to Clarkston,” Villeneuve said.

“Every Washingtonian would lose under this initiative, whether they live in a rural community, a suburban neighborhood, or the big city. That’s why the team at the Northwest Progressive Institute is accelerating our work to unite Washingtonians in support of Amtrak Cascades, Sound Transit 3, and essential local projects, so that we get the transportation improvements that we sorely need.”

In the past, initiatives similar to I-976 have benefited from a lack of vigorous, year-round opposition. But those days ended with the establishment of Permanent Defense.

“An inclusive economy requires an inclusive, multimodal transportation system that gives people choices. Thanks to great work by our elected representatives and sound decisions we’ve made at the ballot as a people, we are moving away from an auto-centric transportation system and towards a human-centric one,” Villeneuve said.

“But communities that are anxiously awaiting vital transit and road improvements are at risk of not getting them if we don’t neutralize threats like I-976. So while we are thrilled to celebrate today’s big East Link breakthrough, we are mindful of the need to protect all the projects that are still on the drawing board or undergoing final design.”

On Monday, July 23rd, NPI will unveil a new NO on I-976 website meant to help voters understand the threat that this destructive initiative represents, and enable concerned citizens and organizations to join the coalition opposed to the measure. The site’s availability will be announced through NPI’s publications as well as via news release.

Tim Eyman gets a gift from NPI’s Permanent Defense at his roadside press conference

From the Campaign TrailRethinking and Reframing

Tim Eyman didn’t have petitions to submit today to qualify an initiative to the November 2018 ballot, but the lawbreaking initiative promoter decided to show up at the Secretary of State’s Elections Annex anyway in a bid to garner attention for I-976, his fourth attempt in three years to wipe out transit investments across Washington State.

Stationed in front of a pickup truck adorned with a banner and tubs of I-976 petitions, Eyman kept a steady stream of commentary coming to any reporters who would listen about the I-976 signature drive as well as the Alliance for Gun Responsibility’s I-1639, which Eyman opposes and which is likely headed to the ballot.

To signify and reaffirm our dedication to vigorously opposing and defeating I-976, we provided Eyman and his associate Mike Fagan (a Spokane City Councilmember) with a token of our commitment to protecting our vital transit investments. Each received a copy of the mini-poster below depicting Link light rail vehicles in action.

Link is our newest transit mode and is liberating an increasing number of riders from gridlock in one of our state’s most crowded, congested corridors. It is being expanded north, east, south,  and west simultaneously thanks to voter approval of Sound Transit 2 in 2008 and Sound Transit 3 in 2016.

We Love Our Light RailEyman claims to have collected 202,172 signatures for I-976 so far, which for all we know could be a made up number. He needs 350,000 by January 4th, 2019.

As it so happens, almost exactly twelve years ago, Eyman appeared on that very same Olympia street in a Darth Vader costume to announce that he had collected 142,613 signatures for I-917, which, like I-976, was an attempt to slash vehicle fees. A few weeks later, Eyman returned for his turn-in event, this time dressed up as Buzz Lightyear.

Not long after, the Secretary of State revealed that an insufficient number of signatures had been submitted to allow the initiative to pass a random sample check.

A subsequent complete check of all signatures found that the initiative did not have enough to qualify. Consequently, I-917 never appeared on the ballot.

Eyman declared publicly that he had submitted enough signatures to qualify, and alleged (without foundation) that some of the I-917 petitions had been “pilfered”.

In an attempt to prop up his baseless claim, Eyman circulated a letter that purported to show the weekly signature totals for I-917. Hilariously, the total for the week of Eyman’s event in Olympia contradicted the number that Eyman had given to reporters, prompting us to ask: Was Eyman lying then, or is he lying now? (Either way, Eyman lied.)

  • 1
  • 2

You are here:

No on Tim Eyman's I-976

Help defend transit: Sign up for NO on I-976 campaign updates

What we do

Permanent Defense works to protect Washington by building a first line of defense against threats to the common wealth and Constitution of the Evergreen State — like Tim Eyman's initiative factory. Learn more.

Protecting Washington Since 2002

We’re social

Follow Permanent Defense on Facebook and Twitter for campaign and project updates.

Permanent Defense on Facebook Permanent Defense on Twitter

Newsroom Archives