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.

NPI applauds legal challenge to Tim Eyman’s I-976

In the Courts

Today, a coalition of local governments plus the Amalgamated Transit Union and a resident of Thurston County jointly filed suit in King County Superior Court alleging that Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976 is unconstitutional on multiple grounds. The plaintiffs seek an injunction barring I-976 from being implemented following the certification of the November 2019 general election and an order declaring I-976 unconstitutional.

Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve welcomed the filing of the legal challenge and wished the plaintiffs well.

“The fight against I-976 continues in a different arena with the filing of this necessary, timely legal challenge,” said Villeneuve.

“Tim Eyman intended for Initiative 976 to be a wrecking ball aimed at our multimodal transportation investments, which he ideologically opposes. If I-976 is ever implemented, that is certainly what it would be. But there’s a good chance it will never go into effect, because the measure itself is a blazing dumpster fire.”

“Like previous Eyman initiatives, I-976 is loaded with constitutional defects. For instance, it violates the single subject rule as well as the subject in title rule. The NPI team agrees with the plaintiffs that I-976 simply cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny. The courts should protect our plan of government and toss I-976 in the scrap heap of Washington State electoral history where it belongs. Then, our Legislature should promptly act to address the concerns that many Washingtonians have about our reliance on a needlessly complicated, multi-layered system of vehicle fees to fund the essential transportation improvements our communities need.”

“The Legislature must also make an initiative reform a top priority. Ridiculous abuses that open the door to deception, like ballot title shopping, need to be ended. A more robust process adopted for developing ballot titles that seeks and utilizes community input must be instituted as well. The title is the only language voters see on their ballots, so its content is of vital importance.”

“It’s irresponsible and immoral to ask voters to decide the fate of a proposed law using dishonest, poorly phrased, one-sided language. If voters are to pass an informed judgment on an initiative, the question they are asked must accurately represent what is being proposed and summarize the potential impacts. That was not the case with I-976. Loaded questions will always yield loaded answers.”

A few thoughts on the November 5th, 2019 initial election results

Election Postmortem

Initial results in the November 2019 general election suggest that the outcome of many races, including the two statewide initiatives, will probably be decided by late ballots. Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve issued the following statement on the initial results.

“Tonight, three weeks of voting in the November 2019 general election came to an end. But this election is not over. Until all the ballots are counted and the results certified, this remains an election in progress. There are many, many ballots left to count, and it looks like many people may have voted late. So tonight is not an appropriate juncture to start drawing conclusions about everything that’s on the ballot.”

“One thing we do know: Tim Eyman’s prediction that 65% of voters in every county would back Initiative 976 was wrong. I-976 is failing in several counties and passing only modestly in others. Eyman will not achieve the result that he boasted that he would get. Regardless of the voters’ final verdict on I-976, our efforts to defend Washington’s freedom of mobility and multimodal transportation infrastructure will go on. We must survive Initiative 976. Our state’s future depends on it.”

“We are pleased to see that Gig Harbor and Duvall voters are passing their transportation levies, and pleased to see that Federal Way voters are passing the Stable Homes initiative. We’re happy the King County Medic One levy is passing with a big margin. We’re also tracking parks levies, fire levies, and school levy/bond measures around the state, and we’re seeing positive results for a significant number of those local propositions. These levies would not be passing if people weren’t willing to invest in each other to build better communities. Some of the levies are passing by enormous margins, and that’s very significant to us.”

“We’ll have more analysis of this election in the hours and days to come. Tonight, we’re grateful to have had the opportunity to work with so many people and organizations to defend the values that Washington State was founded upon. Tomorrow our important work continues.”

It’s a clean sweep! Washington newspapers are united against I-976

From the Campaign Trail

As the campaign against Tim Eyman’s incredibly destructive I-976 draws to a close, our team at the Northwest Progressive Institute is feeling grateful.

Grateful to have had the opportunity to work with so many people and organizations against this grave threat to Washington’s mobility, from the Mainstream Republicans of Washington State to All Aboard Washington to the Sierra Club’s Cascade Chapter… all organizations that answered NPI’s call to join forces against a measure that would roll back bipartisan, voter-approved transportation investments that our state needs.

Grateful to the business community and the labor movement for providing Keep Washington Rolling (the coalition against I-976) with the majority of the resources needed to wage a proper and effective NO campaign.

And grateful to all of the newspaper publishers and editorial boards that have weighed in urging a NO vote on this measure.

As of yesterday, NPI had tallied fourteen editorial boards in opposition to I-976 and zero in favor on our Editorial Scoreboard.

Special kudos goes to The Seattle Times, which has editorialized against I-976 not just once, but repeatedly… and every single editorial published on the subject has been a gem. Thank you, Seattle Times!

The editorials excerpted below against I-976 remind us how important newspapers are to our civic health and well-being.

Even in this digital media age, characterized by fragmentation, concentration of ownership, and the decay of once dependable business models, newspapers are still essential.

Newspaper op-ed pages provide a place for the issues of the day to be discussed and debated civilly, with effective moderation.

Newspapers also provide a space for deep dives written by journalists who can help people understand an issue from many angles.

What is published in a newspaper is far more likely to be accessible to a researcher decades from now than a blog post or social media screed. It is essential that we figure out as a society how to sustain the newspapers that we have left. They are just too valuable to lose.

Washington State newspapers are united against Tim Eyman’s I-976

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT EYMAN’S LATEST SCHEME TO MESS WITH OUR MOBILITY

The Seattle Times
Nothing about I-976 is a good idea, in terms of responsible governance or prudent money management. Eyman asks voters to buy a falsity that there’s some miraculous way to fund our state’s backlog of bridge, road and transit needs. Because the courts cannot end this toxic nonsense quickly enough, voters must reject I-976 themselves.

The News Tribune of Tacoma
There’s no question that reliable roads, bridges and public transit are essential to Washington’s economy and quality of life. So there’s no question that voters should reject I-976 in the November 5th election.

The Kitsap Sun
Hastily cutting out $4 billion over the next decade, which is what I-976 is estimated to do, would have a serious effect on that progress for state-managed corridors like Highways 305 and 16, but also for municipalities.

The Yakima Herald-Republic
Eyman’s measure undermines three tenets of conservative governance: local control, designating funds for specific purposes, and user fees in which those who use a service pay for it… With transportation a top-of-mind issue in the state, Initiative 976 is exactly what we don’t need.

The Tri-City Herald
If you care about safe roads and bridges, a strong Washington State Patrol, public transportation services for the elderly and disabled, and a reliable way to get goods from Eastern Washington to shipping ports in Western Washington, then you should oppose I-976.

The Stranger
Basically, this measure is the script for an asteroid-hitting-the-planet movie, except we’d be voting for this asteroid to hit us. And it would be a handout to the 1 percent, making the car tabs on a $300,000 Ferrari cost the same as those on a $3,000 Honda.

Walla Walla Union Bulletin
A dramatic cut in transportation funding statewide and locally is simply not acceptable. We urge voters to reject I-976.

The Columbian of Vancouver
Passage of I-976 would short the statewide transportation budget, including highway construction and the Washington State Patrol, by an estimated $4 billion over the next decade. In Vancouver alone, the city would lose more than half the $9 million it spends annually to carry out its street funding strategy; it also would miss out on transportation grants that require local matching funds.

The Herald of Everett
 I-976 will add to the package of regressive taxes in this state that demand more as a percentage of income from lower- and moderate-income families than from those with higher incomes, in effect a tax break for those who can afford luxury vehicles in the Puget Sound region.

The Spokesman-Review of Spokane
Washington’s vehicle registration fees provide a large portion of the funding for repairing roads and bridges as well as public transportation. Initiative 976 would slash those fees, costing state and local governments more than $4 billion over the next six years.

The Islands’ Sounder
Don’t fall for the shiny $30 tabs and the promise of “saving money” at the expense of yourself, your neighbors, your ferries and the safety of your roads. Vote no on I-976.

Lewiston Morning Tribune
As you drive on those banged up highways, your meager savings from reduced car tabs will evaporate quickly to pay for realignments, new struts or even tires. Passing I-976 may reinvigorate Eyman’s sagging political fortunes, but it’s a loser for you. Vote no.

Ritzville Adams County Journal
Ensuring that our bridges and roads are safe and that the trains and buses run on time is crucial to keeping Washington’s economy on the right track. And for one of the most export-reliant states in the country, it is critical that the goods and supplies from Washington’s farms and businesses can move as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The University of Washington Daily
The Daily Editorial Staff believes that voting no on I-976 is of the utmost importance during this election to keep improving our statewide public transportation. 

Permanent Defense goes up on Spanish language radio to oppose I-976 and support I-1000

From the Campaign Trail

As part of our final push to defeat this year’s crop of right wing ballot measures, NPI’s Permanent Defense PAC is pleased to announce the launch of two ads on Spanish language radio outlets that urge a NO vote on Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976 and an APPROVED vote on Initiative 1000, the Washington Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Act.

Although not all voters speak English or use it as their first language, very few campaigns make any effort to create materials in languages other than English.

At NPI, inclusion is one of our core values. So is practicing what we preach. That’s why we’ve created these ads. We want to make sure everybody understands the importance of voting “NO” on I-976 and “Approved” on I-1000 — even if they don’t speak English.

Here’s our I-976 ad (M Radio Live version):

If you’d prefer to read it, here’s the copy:

NW Como americanos juntos tomamos decisiones sobre nuestro futuro a través de elecciones. En ocasiones tenemos la oportunidad de votar en propuestas de leyes nuevas. Este año una propuesta de Ley llamada Iniciativa 976 amenaza nuestro futuro. Esta ley recorta el financiamiento para arreglar puentes inseguros, crear nuevas vías de tren a lugares como Federal Way, y provee servicio de transporte publico del que dependen nuestras comunidades. La Iniciativa 976 agravara la vialidad, dejándonos un tráfico paralizado y alejados de nuestra familia. Aprende más sobre los altos costos de la Iniciativa 976 en www.No976.org. Vota NO en la Iniciativa 976 antes del 5 de noviembre. Este anuncio es pagado por Permanent Defense PAC: PO Box 2921 en Redmond.

If you don’t understand Spanish, here’s an English language translation:

As Americans, we make decisions together about our future through elections. Sometimes we even get to vote on proposed new laws ourselves. This year, a proposed law called Initiative 976 threatens our future. It cuts funding to fix unsafe bridges, build new train lines to places like Federal Way, and provide bus service our communities rely on. 976 would make traffic worse, stranding us in bumper to bumper gridlock and keeping us apart from our families. Learn more about the heavy costs of 976 by going to www.no976.org. Then, vote NO on Initiative 976 by November 5th. This ad was paid for by Permanent Defense PAC: PO Box 2921, Redmond, WA 98073.

Here’s our I-1000 ad (M Radio Live version)::

If you’d prefer to read it, here’s the copy:

Como americanos juntos tomamos decisiones sobre nuestro futuro a través de elecciones. En ocaciones tenemos la oportunidad de votar en propuestas de leyes nuevas. Este año debemos decidir entre aprobar o rechazar una propuesta de ley llamada Iniciativa 1000. Esta ley permite a las agencias publicas dirigirse a las comunidades como la nuestra para darnos información de oportunidades de trabajo en gobierno y contratos gubernamentales. Si pasa la Ley 1000 estaremos mas cerca de la equidad de pago para las mujeres y ayudará a los veteranos a encontrar trabajo cuando regresen a casa a nuestro estado. Aprende más sobre la Iniciativa 1000 antes del 5 de noviembre. Este anuncio es pagado por Permanent Defense PAC: PO Box 2921 en Redmond.

If you don’t understand Spanish, here’s an English language translation:

As Americans, we make decisions together about our future through elections. Sometimes we even get to vote on proposed new laws ourselves. This year, we must decide whether to approve or reject a proposed law called Initiative 1000. 1000 allows public agencies to reach out to communities like ours to tell us about opportunities to apply for jobs and government contracts. Passage of 1000 will get us closer to equal pay for women and help veterans find jobs after they return home to our state. Learn more about 1000 helps all of us by going to www.wafairness.org. Then, vote APPROVED on Initiative 1000 by November 5th. This ad was paid for by Permanent Defense PAC: PO Box 2921, Redmond, WA 98073.

These ads will be on the air through Election Day on terrestrial and online stations.

Debunking Tim Eyman’s I-976 whoppers: Car tabs actually *do* pay for bridges and roads

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.

In the last three weeks, perhaps out of irritation with Keep Washington Rolling’s television ads, Eyman has aggressively peddled a particularly egregious lie that can be easily demonstrated to be an utter falsehood.

EYMAN CLAIM: “Car tab taxes don’t pay for bridges or roads – gas taxes do.” (Source: Eyman’s Facebook Wall, October 6th, 2019).

Eyman also repeated this fabrication in an interview with KREM 2 News of Spokane:

Tim Eyman lies to KREM 2 News

Statement from Tim Eyman: “Gas taxes pay for highways and roads, car tab taxes do not. Not a penny of the car tab tax goes to roads — the government spends car tab taxes on non-road stuff.”

Ironically, this lie appeared onscreen during a segment entitled “Verify”. The lie was not subsequently debunked by reporter Tim Pham — though it should have been.

THE REALITY: Vehicle fees — or “car tab taxes”, in Eyman parlance — do in fact pay for bridges and roads. At the state level, many vehicle fees are deposited in accounts that benefit our roads and bridges, including the Motor Vehicle Fund. At the local level, more than sixty cities have formed what are known as transportation benefit districts to levy vehicle fees, primarily for street maintenance and road repairs.

Here’s an example of a Washington State vehicle registration renewal bill, circa 2019:

Fees and Donations
Registration License – Renewal $30.00
Vehicle Weight $25.00
Registration Filing $4.50
Registration Service Fee $8.00
License Plate Technology $0.25
Department of Licensing Service $0.50
State Parks Donation $5.00
RTA Excise Tax $67.00
Total $140.25

Notice the first line item… “Registration License — Renewal”. That thirty dollars benefits the Washington State Patrol, Washington State Ferries, and the Motor Vehicle Fund.

RCW 46.68.035 directs how the funds from that line item are to be invested:

Disposition of combined vehicle license fees.

The director shall forward all proceeds from vehicle license fees received by the director for vehicles registered under RCW 46.17.330, 46.17.350(1) (c) and (k), 46.17.355, and 46.17.400(1)(c) to the state treasurer to be distributed into accounts according to the following method:

(1) 22.36 percent must be deposited into the state patrol highway account of the motor vehicle fund;

(2) 1.375 percent must be deposited into the Puget Sound ferry operations account of the motor vehicle fund;

(3) 5.237 percent must be deposited into the transportation 2003 account (nickel account);

(4) 11.533 percent must be deposited into the transportation partnership account created in RCW 46.68.290; and

(5) The remaining proceeds must be deposited into the motor vehicle fund.

It says right there in the law that vehicle license fees (car tabs) must be deposited in accounts that provide funding for the State Patrol, Washington State Ferries, highway projects authorized by the Legislature, and the Motor Vehicle Fund.

The state’s Motor Vehicle Fund “shall be for the use of the state, and through state agencies, for the use of counties, cities, and towns for proper road, street, and highway purposes,” according to RCW46.68.070. (Emphasis is ours).

State vehicle weight fees, meanwhile, benefit the Freight Mobility Multimodal Account and the main Multimodal Account. These accounts fund all transportation modes, including our highway system as well as the state’s rail initiatives. See RCW 46.68.415.

And most cities levying vehicle fees are using them for street maintenance. Like Spokane, Sedro-Woolley, Prosser, or Vancouver.

So, again, when Tim Eyman says car tabs don’t pay for bridges and roads, he’s lying.

Why does Eyman lie so brazenly?

Because he knows that as satirist Jonathan Swift once observed, a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its boots on.

Eyman’s idol Donald Trump, the Liar-in-Chief, knows this too, and takes full advantage.

At NPI, what we do when we read an Eyman email missive, see an Eyman Facebook posting, or hear a clip of Eyman is speaking is assume that everything Eyman has said is false until it can be proven true. This is not our normal practice; we like to assume that people mean well as opposed to assuming hostile, malicious intent.

But with known con artists like Tim Eyman, it’s absolutely necessary to invert the default.

Otherwise, the con artist succeeds in their aim of conning people.

Our advice to anyone covering I-976 or any of Tim Eyman’s activities is this: Trust nothing Eyman says. Nothing. If you ask Eyman for comment out of fairness, and he lies — as he so often does — call him on it. You can say: “Mr. Eyman told us this, but it’s actually not true… here’s what we found when we followed the facts.”

If media outlets allow Eyman’s lies to go unchecked, they spread. And that’s bad for Washington’s civic health. It promotes cynicism and mistrust in government.

As taxpayers, it’s important we connect the dots between the taxes and fees we pay and the services we get in return. We should all understand the workings of our government to the best of our ability. After all, these services are ours. We pay for them.

They belong to us.

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.

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