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.

Debunking Tim Eyman’s I-976 whoppers: There is no multi-billion dollar surplus available to backfill I-976 cuts

From the Campaign TrailRethinking and Reframing

The last few years have been littered with setbacks and defeats for disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman. From 2016-2018, Eyman failed to qualify anything to Washington’s general election ballot despite half a dozen attempts.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office has been working tirelessly to hold Eyman accountable for his willful and blatant violations of Washington’s public disclosure laws, dealing Eyman loss after loss in court.

Eyman is counting on an electoral victory in November to revive the fortunes of his flailing initiative factory. He has declared that his Initiative 976, a measure that would gut $4.2 billion in transportation funding over the next six years, will pass overwhelmingly in all thirty-nine of Washington’s counties and even pass in Seattle, which has consistently rejected his destructive schemes for twenty years.

If we look at what Eyman has said in response to questions about I-976’s fiscal impacts, though, we can see Eyman’s not confident about winning in November. Why else would Eyman feel the need to lie about the extent of the damage that his measure would cause?

The whoppers Eyman has been telling about I-976 deserve to be called out and debunked.

For example, last week, when contacted for comment by television stations like Seattle’s KING5 and Spokane’s KREM in response to the Keep Washington Rolling coalition’s autumn kickoffs in Spokane and Seattle, Eyman dishonestly asserted that there is a free lunch available to people who vote yes on I-976.

EYMAN CLAIM: “With the state having a $3.5 billion net surplus and record revenues, politicians threats, lies, and scare tactics are particularly unbelievable and absurd… There is more than enough revenue to backfill any affected government program.” (Source: King County leaders: $30 car tabs would be ‘catastrophic’ for transit projects — 09/18/2019)

THE REALITY: Wrong. What’s hard to believe is that Tim Eyman is still making outrageously false statements like this when he knows he can be fact checked.

Then again, perhaps he figures if Donald Trump can get away with it, so can he.

There is no ‘net surplus’ that can be used to backfill the revenue that would be lost if I-976 were to be implemented. It simply doesn’t exist.

And the comment that Washington is seeing ‘record revenues’ is meaningless.

The Washington State of today cannot be compared to past periods using absolute dollar figures, which Tim Eyman sometimes plots onto charts and trots out in support of his incorrect arguments about ‘record’ taxation.

To draw comparisons between different time periods, economists use a metric like income or expenditures per $1,000 in personal income.

As OFM’s data shows, in the 1990s, both income and expenditures per $1,000 in personal income was higher than it is today. That means that the extent to which we are investing in public services overall has actually decreased. In other words, taxes were higher twenty-five years ago than they are today. Even if Eyman’s mythical $3.5 billion existed, it wouldn’t be enough to offset the revenue I-976 would eliminate.

The Office of Financial Management has analyzed that I-976 would eliminate $4.2 billion in funding at the state and local levels over the next six years.

The impact is even worse over ten years… Eyman’s favorite time period.

Sound Transit has analyzed that the loss of the motor vehicle excise tax revenue would blow a giant hole in its financing, jeopardizing as much as $20 billion in transit expansion funding that voters already approved.

Senior Northwest Progressive Institute boardmember Gael Tarleton, who serves as Chair of the Finance Committee in the Washington State House of Representatives, says it’s vital that Eyman’s false claims be fact checked so voters aren’t misled by his lies.

“Tim Eyman talks about budgets as if he knows what he’s talking about. He’s lying,” said Tarleton. “There is no multi-billion dollar ‘net surplus’ available for the Legislature to tap if I-976 is implemented.” She elaborated:

Presently, there are two main sources of transportation funding in our state: the fuel tax and vehicle fees, which are supplemented by tolls and ferry fares in specific corridors.”

Fuel tax proceeds can only be used for highway purposes in accordance with our state constitution. That leaves vehicle fees as the sole major funding source for multimodal projects that empower pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and motorists to get where they want to go. State-level vehicle fee revenue pays for Amtrak Cascades intercity rail service, keeps our Washington State Patrol troopers on the beat, supports freight mobility infrastructure, and vital services like vanpools and transit grants for rural communities.

If we don’t defeat I-976, Eyman’s latest scheme, countless essential projects will be delayed or canceled, because the state doesn’t simply have any money sitting around to replace the lost billions. The cuts I-976 would necessitate will set back our efforts to invest in safer roads, earthquake-resistant bridges, and higher quality transit by two decades.

Despite the confidence he projects, Tim Eyman is clearly nervous about losing this campaign. That’s why he is lying to the public about the destruction I-976 would cause when he does interviews with the press.

Debunking Tim Eyman’s I-976 whoppers: This measure is no “haircut”

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

The last few years have been littered with setbacks and defeats for disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman. From 2016-2018, Eyman failed to qualify anything to Washington’s general election ballot despite half a dozen attempts.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office has been working tirelessly to hold Eyman accountable for his willful and blatant violations of Washington’s public disclosure laws, dealing Eyman loss after loss in court.

Eyman is counting on an electoral victory in November to revive the fortunes of his flailing initiative factory. He has declared that his Initiative 976, a measure that would gut $4.2 billion in transportation funding over the next six years, will pass overwhelmingly in all thirty-nine of Washington’s counties and even pass in Seattle, which has consistently rejected his destructive schemes for twenty years.

If we look at what Eyman has said in response to questions about I-976’s fiscal impacts, though, we can see Eyman’s not confident about winning in November. Why else would Eyman feel the need to lie about the extent of the damage that his measure would cause?

The whoppers Eyman has been telling about I-976 deserve to be called out and debunked.

Let’s start with a claim he made a month ago on KIRO Newsradio: that I-976 would only rob Sound Transit of “a small percentage of money”.

EYMAN CLAIM: “The fact is Initiative 976 is like a haircut when it comes to Sound Transit… We’re only talking about a small percentage of money.” (Source: Can Washington survive $30 car tab measure if it passes? — 08/16/2019)

THE REALITY: Wrong. Implementation of Tim Eyman’s I-976 would leave in ruins plans to deliver light rail expansion to Everett, Tacoma, Ballard, West Seattle, and Kirkland/Issaquah, as well as deploy bus rapid transit on Interstate 405 and expand Sounder commuter rail to DuPont and Tillicum. That’s because Sound Transit would lose an essential major revenue source, which would in turn severely impair its ability to borrow money, jeopardizing an estimated $20 billion in funding overall.

This is not an accident; it’s by design.

Tim Eyman is well aware that the loss of Sound Transit’s motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) revenue would blow a giant hole in Sound Transit 3. He’s counting on it: his goal is to sabotage Sound Transit 3’s voter approved projects so they don’t get built.

He’s previously admitted his true intentions to friendly audiences.

In 2016, when Eyman was trying to qualify a measure almost identical to I-976, he pitched it as the “NO on ST3” campaign in an address to the Eastside Republican Club in Bellevue, on March 1st, 2016. Said Eyman in his remarks:

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. Listen to the audio here.

The next time Eyman tries to dismiss the impact of I-976 as giving Sound Transit “a haircut”, just remember that we have Tim Eyman on tape saying that the primary objective of doing a new initiative to cap vehicle fees at thirty dollars is to rip the heart out of Sound Transit and gut the agency like a pig.

That’s a far cry from “a haircut”. Eyman’s August 16th statement is compelling evidence that he’s worried that if voters know the truth about the damage I-976 would cause, they’ll decide to fill in the oval next to NO on the ballot.

Despite the confidence he projects, Eyman is clearly nervous about losing this campaign. That’s why he is lying to the public about the destruction I-976 would cause when he does interviews with the press.

Journalists, when reporting on I-976 (devastates transportation funding), don’t forget about the impacts!

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Equations. They’re an essential element of mathematics: statements that assert the equality of multiple expressions.

There are two sides to every equation, but you wouldn’t know that from reading the materials that Tim Eyman sends out about the initiatives that he sponsors.

For example, consider the “info sheet” that Eyman distributed today for Initiative 976. It contains no discussion about what the people of Washington stand to lose if Eyman’s latest measure is adopted. There isn’t even a passing acknowledgment that the initiative could result in the cancellation of countless projects to improve mobility plus cutbacks to existing services.

The Office of Financial Management analyzed last week that I-976 would result in the loss of more than $4 billion for transportation investments in revenue at the state, regional, and local levels over six years.

Affected projects and services include:

  • Amtrak Cascades, a regional intercity rail service that provides Washington’s only rail link with British Columbia
  • Road and sidewalk maintenance in sixty cities, including road resurfacing
  • King Country Metro bus service funded by Seattle taxpayers
  • Essential freight mobility projects needed to ensure the smooth movement of goods
  • Sound Transit system expansion (ST3), including light rail, commuter rail, express bus, and bus rapid transit projects

Eyman is fully aware that services like Amtrak Cascades rely upon vehicle fees for funding and that the Washington State Constitution prohibits the use of taxes on fuel for non-highway purposes.

Eyman is lying when he suggests the funding for these projects and services could simply come from somewhere else. Where’s that $4+ billion supposed to come from? Money for the essential services our economy requires doesn’t grow on trees. It comes from taxes. Taxes are investments… essential investments. It is not possible to repeal billions in revenue and suffer no consequences. There are always consequences. This is basic math!

We saw this in the aftermath of I-695 in 1999 and I-776 in 2002.

For example, Washington State Ferries still hasn’t fully recovered from the impact of I-695, while the King County Department of Transportation still hasn’t recovered from the impact of I-776. Those measures were considered and voted on decades ago, but the impacts are still being felt today, as the elected officials and public workers who are responsible for providing mobility services to the public can attest.

Many communities lost funding against their will. For example, people in King County voted against both I-695 and I-776.

If I-976 is implemented, then there will be cuts to already-approved projects and services. These would be significant cuts that would be noticeable and widely felt. Cuts that increase traffic, make our tax code more unfair, and saddle us with costs we don’t need or want. For example, Everett and Tacoma could lose their planned light rail stations because it’s unlikely there would be sufficient funds to build them.

That’s the other side of the vehicle fee equation… the side Eyman doesn’t want you to ever talk about, but which you have a duty and obligation to cover so that Washingtonians can make an informed decision on I-976.

The truth is, Washingtonians and their elected representatives have voted repeatedly to fund multimodal transportation infrastructure.

(“Multimodal” refers to the concept of enabling people to get around through different modes, whether that’s walking, biking, taking the bus, taking the train, vanpooling, or using a scooter, as opposed to merely driving alone.)

Eyman is ideologically opposed to investing in any kind of transportation infrastructure that does not subsidize automobile travel… and in particular, single occupancy vehicle travel. (High occupancy vehicle lanes are part of our highway system, but Eyman opposes those because you can’t drive alone in them during peak hours, at least not without paying a toll, something else Eyman is opposed to.)

How do we know this? Because Eyman has previously sponsored initiatives to redirect money from mass transit to roads (I-745 in 2000), open high occupancy vehicle lanes to everyone during all but a few hours of the day (I-985, 2008) and prohibit variable tolling (I-1125, 2011). Washington voters rejected all three of those initiatives.

Sadly, Tim Eyman doesn’t care. He is just as determined now to undermine and destroy multimodal infrastructure as he was twenty years ago.

Eyman also doesn’t care that voters in Puget Sound voted repeatedly to expand light rail, commuter rail, express bus, and bus rapid transit projects by approving Sound Move in 1996, Sound Transit 2 in 2008, and Sound Transit 3 in 2016.

The outcome didn’t go his way, so he considers the will of the voters irrelevant. Meaningless. Not even worth acknowledging.

It is vital that voters understand both sides of the equation — not just Eyman’s side — before they return their ballots. So make sure when you’re covering I-976 to talk about the impacts. In detail. I-976 would wreak havoc in every part of the state, so no matter where your audience is, there’s a local angle (perhaps several!) to explore.

At the NO on I-976 website, home to the Keep Washington Rolling coalition, you’ll find a useful fact sheet which delves more deeply into the impacts, as well as frequently asked questions and a list of cities that would be directly affected by I-976.

Tim Eyman’s I-1648 looks like another fake from a con artist with no shame

Statements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

Over the past four years, while doing his best to stonewall Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s investigation into his egregious violations of Washington’s public disclosure laws, Tim Eyman has attempted to qualify nearly half a dozen initiatives to the ballot.

Each time, with the sole exception of I-976 (which is on the November 2019 ballot), Eyman’s petition drives have ended in failure, because he didn’t have the money to purchase the signatures necessary to force a public vote on his bad ideas.

There was I-1421, I-869, and I-947, the three failed precursors to Initiative 976.

In between I-869 and I-947, there was I-1550, a failed scheme to gut property taxes.

And before those four, at the end of 2015, there was a initiative concept announced by Eyman and his associates Mike and Jack Fagan with an ice cream social in Governor Jay Inslee’s office. Eyman printed up prop petitions for that measure to use at his press conference, but then failed to actually launch a signature drive following the new year.

That initiative concept from almost four years ago is the basis for I-1648.

As with I-1648, each of the aforementioned fakes was unveiled and trumpeted by Eyman with all the fanfare he could muster through email blasts, social media postings, and right wing talk radio appearances. And each went nowhere, because Eyman simply does not have the network of support necessary to qualify anything to the ballot with just volunteer labor.

I-976 is Eyman’s first real initiative in years. It’s already on the ballot — Eyman claims he cashed out his retirement in order to finance the signature drive, although documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court suggest Eyman didn’t entirely empty his retirement fund to qualify the measure — but rather than focus on trying to sell it to voters, Eyman has decided to make another run at getting a second scheme on the November ballot.

Eyman’s initial plan to double up on the November 2019 ballot was to qualify Referendum 80, an attempt to void the new salary schedule for legislators and statewide elected officials adopted by the Washington Citizens Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials.

But he botched that effort and it imploded a few weeks ago.

Now Eyman is trying to resurrect the scheme he came up with a few years ago to follow his hostage-taking Initiative 1366, which would force any revenue reform agreed to by the Legislature to expire after one year unless approved at the ballot.

Initiative 1648 also seeks to repeal all of the modest revenue reforms just enacted by the House and Senate as part of the recently-concluded regular session of the Washington State Legislature. Since it’s trying to do two different things, it probably violates the Washington State Constitution’s single subject rule.

Because Eyman is aiming for the 2019 ballot, he is operating on a tight timeframe. He has less than two months to collect 330,000 signatures.

We can’t find any evidence that Eyman has found a wealthy benefactor to underwrite the signature drive for I-1648. And Eyman would need a wealthy benefactor to make this initiative go. Therefore, at this time, we assess that I-1648 is another one of Eyman’s fakes — a scam designed to part rank and file Republicans from their money.

If I-1648 becomes a credible threat, we’ll immediately begin organizing opposition to it.

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.

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