Tag Archives: Tim Eyman Recycles… Garbage

The truth about taxes in Washington: We invest less in our public services than most other states

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Yesterday, longtime pollster Stuart Elway revealed that his latest survey of Washington voters finds that Tim Eyman’s hostage-taking I-1366 is on the rocks, with support dropping to 42% and opposition rising to 42%, a significant shift from last July, when Elway found support for I-1366 to be at 49% and opposition at 36%.

Apparently unnerved by this news and the bad press it generated, Tim Eyman has gotten busy trying to change the subject. To his followers, he sent off a morning missive touting an endorsement from a militant, gun enthusiast outfit called The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

To the state’s press corps, he sent out a copy of a spreadsheet prepared by the Department of Revenue, which lists how much money the state has collected from property taxes every year since 1980, but is not accompanied by any analysis other than his own — which is not credible and cannot be trusted or relied upon.

Eyman’s reason for circulating the data is to prop up his narrative about Washington being a high-tax state with “skyrocketing” property taxes.

But this narrative is false.

Comparative data from the Department of Revenue shows that, as a percentage of personal income, we Washingtonians are paying less in state and local taxes than we have historically, and less than residents of most other states in the Union.

In 1980, the year Eyman is misleadingly trying to draw a comparison with, DOR data shows Washingtonians were paying a little less than $120 in state and local taxes per $1,000 of personal income. As of 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, Washingtonians were paying $96.82 in state and local taxes per $1,000 of personal income. That’s also less than what residents of most other states were paying at that same time. Comparatively speaking, Washington ranks thirty-fifth among the states with respect to state and local taxes.

The United States average, as of 2012, is $105.24 in state and local taxes per $1,000 of personal income. And again, we in Washington pay less than that. We have been on a largely downward trend for decades, as this historical chart shows:

State and Local Taxes Per $1,000 of Personal Income: Washington and All States Average 1976 - 2012

Tim Eyman doesn’t want people to know this information. That is why he never talks about it. He deals in absolutes, because absolutes produce visuals that suit his false narrative, such as the chart from DOR he sent around. But when you deal in absolutes, you cannot make useful or truthful comparisons. It is important to utilize data that allows for relative comparisons, such as the metric of state and local taxes per $1,000 of personal income. And going by that incredibly important metric, we can see that state and local taxes have been going down… not up.

1980 was a very different time: our state had a smaller population and a smaller economy than it does today. Property values and income levels were different. Washington has seen tremendous economic growth as well as an increase in population over the last thirty years. Demand for essential state and local public services has increased significantly as a consequence of population growth and new development, but funding levels have not kept up.

That’s why legislators are presently under a Supreme Court order to comply with Article IX, Section 1 of our Constitution, which stipulates that it is the paramount duty of the state to amply provide for the education of Washington’s youth.

It is true that Washington’s tax code is regressive; the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy has ranked it the worst in the nation. The sad reality is, we have an upside-down system that requires middle and lower income families to pay a much larger percentage of their income in taxes than the wealthy do.

We at NPI think this is wrong, and we want to reform our tax code to make it more progressive. Tim Eyman doesn’t. Progressive tax reform is his worst nightmare, because it could seriously limit the appeal of future anti-tax initiatives, which he profits from qualifying to the ballot on an almost yearly basis.

It is very important that taxes be fair and equitable, because taxes are our membership dues in the State of Washington, and in the cities and counties we call home. Taxes support K-12 schools, colleges, universities, police, fire, and emergency medical response, parks, pools, hospitals, roads, transit, ferries, courts, elections, foster care, jails, prisons, courts, elections, geologic hazards mapping, and a lengthy list of health and human services. By pooling our resources together, we are able to afford these things.

But unfortunately, we haven’t been investing in our essential public services to the degree we should be. Our communities have suffered as a result, and we’ve missed economic opportunities, too. We ought to be investing more than we are. Given that our tax code is so regressive, the sensible way forward is for our state is to require the wealthy (including Tim Eyman’s wealthy benefactors) to step up and pay their fair share. Sadly, Eyman’s benefactors have no interest in being patriotic taxpayers, which is why they’re underwriting Eyman’s hostage-taking I-1366.

NPI’s Permanent Defense ready to fight Eyman’s I-1366

Statements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

This morning, Tim Eyman announced that he will once again be attempting to qualify an initiative to the ballot that would wipe out around $1 billion per year in revenue for schools and other vital public services unless, by April 2016, the Legislature passes a constitutional amendment sabotaging Article II, Section 22 of the state Constitution, which requires that bills shall pass by majority vote.

NPI organized against last year’s incarnation of this awful, Ted Cruz-inspired scheme, and stands ready to do so again this year.

“For thirteen years, NPI’s Permanent Defense has strived to provide Tim Eyman’s initiative factory with the vigorous opposition that it deserves,” said NPI founder Andrew Villeneuve. “We’re prepared to go to work building a strong coalition to defeat I-1366; we consider today to be the first day of the NO on I-1366 campaign.”

“Last year’s incarnation of I-1366, I-1325, did not make the ballot, but that doesn’t mean I-1366 won’t,” Villeneuve added.

“We know well from past experience that all Eyman needs is one wealthy benefactor to underwrite his scheme, and he’s in business.”

“But no one who cares about what happens to their money should give Eyman so much as a cent. He and his associates remain under investigation by the Public Disclosure Commission for alleged lawbreaking during the I-517 campaign in 2012.”

“During the spring, summer, and fall of 2012, Eyman ran a signature drive for I-517 in stealth mode, failing to report contributions and expenditures in a timely fashion. Evidence suggests Eyman used money from a different initiative, I-1185, to underwrite I-517 – without telling the corporations and trade groups that gave to I-1185 what he was doing. His actions then and now are part of a long pattern of deceptions dating back to his raiding of campaign funds for his own personal use around the turn of the century.”

Three things to know about I-1366

  • It’s basically a clone of last year’s I-1325, which the Spokesman-Review editorial board called “his worst ever – and that’s saying something”. They added: “This is not about protecting taxpayers. I-1325 is about keeping Eyman in business.”
  • It’s likely unconstitutional. If enacted, I-1366 would drastically cut state revenue (by slashing the sales tax) if the Legislature did not pass a constitutional amendment to require two-thirds votes for revenue increases by April 2016. The state Supreme Court has already held the Legislature in contempt for failing to fully fund our public schools in the wake of the McCleary decision. A new Eyman initiative which tries to blackmail lawmakers by wiping out $1 billion a year in funding for schools and other public services in the event they don’t do his bidding is unlikely to survive a court challenge.
  • Eyman is falsely advertising I-1366 as a “constitutional amendment” and a “constitutional amendment initiative”, like he did with I-1325. Initiatives are not constitutional amendments; furthermore, there is no such thing a constitutional amendment initiative. See our advisory about this from last year.

An annotated version of the text of I-1325 (again, last year’s version) is also available on Permanent Defense’s website which debunks each of its provisions. I-1366 has some new provisions that I-1325 does not have, but otherwise it appears to be the same destructive and mean-spirited initiative I-1325 was.

Tim Eyman refiles HB 1415 as initiative to the people, labels it “Fund Education First” (with what money, Tim?)

Rethinking and Reframing

Yesterday, presumably while he was at the state’s Capitol Campus to testify on a bill he didn’t like, Tim Eyman filed three more initiatives, bringing the total number he’s filed so far this year to eight. The first two are titled “Son of 1053” and “Son of 1125” (and they are comprised of provisions recycled from Eyman’s last two initiatives.)

But the third initiative is altogether different. Eyman filed it under the title “Fund Education First” (no, we’re not joking). However, Eyman didn’t write it. It appears to be a carbon copy of House Bill 1415, filed a year ago by House Republicans. HB 1415 is a short, four-provision bill that would require the Legislature to appropriate funding for Washington’s K-12 schools before appropriating revenue to fund other services.

The full text can be found at the Legislature’s website.

It appears that Eyman has simply lifted the text of the bill in its entirety and is using it as a first draft of an initiative to the people (an initiative he probably has no intention of running). The text will now be reworked by the Code Reviser’s office – at taxpayer expense! – into a format appropriate for an initiative, perhaps with editorial commentary written by Eyman inserted as a preface.

The last provision of HB 1415, by the way, ties the legislation to the fate of a proposed constitutional amendment. This provision will probably be deleted by the Code Reviser’s office since it makes no sense to keep it in.

This act takes effect January 1, 2012, if the proposed amendment to Article IX of the state Constitution HJR . . . . (H-0681.1/11) is validly submitted to and is approved and ratified by the voters at the next general election. If the proposed amendment is not approved and ratified, this act is void in its entirety.

We think it’s beyond ironic that Tim Eyman has filed an initiative to “fund education first”. His own initiatives have made funding vital public services like our public schools nearly impossible. Many schools and school districts have only managed to stave off financial disaster because they’ve been able to raise money through voter-approved levies and bonds or through Parent Teacher Association (PTA) fundraising.

Years of Eyman initiatives have taken a serious toll on our state’s commonwealth. Many of Eyman’s most destructive schemes have been explicitly designed to prevent the Legislature from acting to solve the problem. And Washington’s youth are paying the price. They aren’t getting the education they deserve – the education that the Constitution of Washington State requires us as a society to provide.

It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.

It is up to us to make our Constitution a living document. If we don’t uphold our Constitution, its provisions become nothing more than words on a page. Our Founding Fathers gave us an enduring plan of government which calls for majority rule with minority rights. Unfortunately, majority rule has now been sabotaged by multiple Tim Eyman initiatives, which have also indirectly harmed all of the public services our commonwealth pays for.

The disingenuous “Fund education first” mantra that Eyman and others are propagating must be rejected. We cannot fund our schools by taking away funding from our universities, corrections system, social safety net, state parks, or other services. That’s robbing Peter to pay Paul. There are no shortcuts we can take, or corners we can cut, that will get us out of this mess. There is no free lunch. A moral budget ultimately comes down to math, for public services cost money. And we are not raising enough money to pay for the services we want and need.

We are clearly not asking enough of ourselves. We need to stop dithering, backfilling, and sliding. That means raising taxes and beginning to work on addressing our broken tax structure so that we can sustain our commonwealth long-term.

Yes, times are tough. But recessions are precisely when we depend on our public services the most. Austerity measures will not help our economy recover. They create a vicious cycle that leads to more gloom and unemployment. We can only break that cycle by strengthening our commonwealth.

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

Statements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First day to file initiatives to the people in 2012 is recycling day for Tim Eyman

Threat Analysis

Today was the first day to file initiatives to the people for the 2012 ballot, and Tim Eyman took advantage, filing five different drafts electronically with Secretary of State Sam Reed’s office. The Elections Division has not yet made the drafts available for download, so we haven’t read through them yet, but we do know what they’re about.

Of the five initiative drafts Eyman filed today, four are clearly retreads of measures he’s filed before. Here’s a short history of each recycled scheme.

  • Eyman’s first draft, titled “Protect the Initiative Act” appears to be a rehashed version of several measures that he’s filed over the years, but never attempted to qualify for the ballot. Previous measures with near-identical titles sought to expand the amount of time allowed to gather signatures on a measure and make it easier for petitioners to file frivolous claims of harassment with the police. There are probably similar ideas in this incarnation.
  • Eyman’s second draft, titled “Son of 1053”, is obviously intended to be the sequel to Eyman’s unconstitutional, undemocratic I-1053 (2010), which itself was the sequel to I-960 (2007), which was based off of I-807 (2003). But even I-807 was a recycled initiative. It was a do-over of Linda Smith’s I-601, which narrowly passed in 1993 but was later suspended by the Legislature. I-601 was the right wing’s first successful effort to subvert Article II, Section 22 of the Constitution and require two-thirds votes for revenue increases.
  • Eyman’s third draft doesn’t have a title, but it’s about vehicle fees. More specifically, it’s about capping vehicle fees as thirty dollars. Where and when have we seen this movie before? Oh yeah… here! In 1999 (I-695), 2002 (I-776) and 2006 (I-917). The first of those three (I-695) was a clone of a measure Eyman had filed the year before, and the idea for that came from the gubernatorial campaign of Republican Jim Gilmore of Virginia.
  • Eyman’s fourth draft also doesn’t have a title; but it does have a subject: “automatic ticketing cameras”. This appears to be a measure that would restrict or ban red light cameras and other kinds of cameras set up to catch people who break traffic laws. It’s no secret that Eyman dislikes red light cameras (and their cousins). He tried to impose limits on cities’ deployment of red light cameras with a provision in I-985 (2008), but voters overwhelmingly rejected the measure. Since then, he’s fought cameras in Mukilteo and attached his name to anti-camera efforts in Bellingham, Longview, Monroe, Lynnwood, and Redmond.

We haven’t reviewed the “Stop Government Fraud Act” yet, but supposedly it would create a new government agency headed by an inspector general to investigate fraud. No doubt Eyman’s proposal requires some percentage of some existing revenue source to be dedicated to this new agency, much like how I-900 (2005) required part of the sales tax to go the state auditor’s office. Wonder how Tim’s going to spin this proposal? He’s always saying that government can’t be trusted. Wouldn’t creating a new government agency simply result in more government that can’t be trusted?

At a press conference in January last year, Eyman, flanked by his cohorts, said he would be running an I-1053 clone in 2012. At the time, he did not announce an effort for 2011 (though he later secured money from Kemper Freeman, Jr. to run I-1125). Unless Eyman decides to run one of these other schemes – or something altogether different – any forthcoming announcement will really just be a re-announcement of what he’s already committed to doing.

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