This week, disgraced initiative promoter and serial public disclosure violator Tim Eyman appeared in front of the Snohomish County Council to assail Executive Dave Somers for proposing a modest property tax increase that would ensure the fast-growing county can meet its public safety needs. (The additional revenue Somers is seeking would avert cuts to law enforcement while also allowing five more sheriff’s deputies to be hired.)
During his remarks — a portion of which were aired on KIRO’s evening newscast — Eyman harshly denounced the Washington State Legislature for having raised property taxes on Snohomish County homeowners like him, telling the Council:
Taxpayers have been ravaged by Sound Transit and ST3. Skyrocketing car tab taxes, highest in the nation sales taxes, plus a massive new property tax. All of you have been hearing about the sticker shock from ST3. And then, just a few months later, just as taxpayers were trying to catch their breath, those taxpayers got ravaged by this year’s Legislature that compounded ST3’s burden by dramatically raising property taxes THROUGH THE ROOF.
Eyman has been railing all year against ST3, even though it was handily approved by voters in last November’s presidential election. But it wasn’t so long ago that Eyman was describing the agreement reached by legislators to keep state government open and steer more revenue into Washington’s public schools as “a mega victory for taxpayers”.
Here’s a longer excerpt from Eyman’s June 29th email:
The final budget deal is a mega-victory for taxpayers.
With tax-obsessed Jay Inslee as Governor and tax-salivating Democrats in charge of the House, our legislative successes aren’t measured by what proposals are passed but are instead measured by what proposals are blocked. In this case, in the face of non-stop pressure by Inslee and the Dems to impose an income tax, capital gains tax, carbon tax, and business taxes, we worked really hard over the past six months and our efforts paid off: the GOP stopped them all.
Later on in the email, Eyman gave a nod of approval to the property tax increase that Senate Republicans insisted on as the budget’s revenue mechanism, saying: “The final watered-down levy swap lowers property taxes for most property owners.”
At no point in his email did Eyman criticize the Senate Republicans for having struck a deal with Democrats that resulted in higher property taxes for urban and suburban Washingtonians — even though he had harshly warned them not to pursue such a course of action just two years prior, during the 2015 legislative session.
In fact, at the end of his June 29th commentary, Eyman called the budget a victory for taxpayers a second time: “So don’t just look at what’s included, look at what’s excluded to recognize the tremendous victory that taxpayers scored with this final budget deal.”
That was then. Summer has now given way to autumn, and Tim Eyman has a new position to go with the new season. What was previously a “mega victory for taxpayers” and a “tremendous victory that taxpayers scored” has somehow, inexplicably, morphed into a defeat… of the worst kind. Taxpayers “got ravaged by this year’s Legislature”, Eyman now says, declaring that property taxes have gone “through the roof”.
Apparently the levy swap wasn’t “watered down” after all.
And apparently it doesn’t matter that some Washingtonians are getting their property taxes cut because others will be seeing an increase… including Eyman, who resides in Mukilteo in the safely Democratic 21st Legislative District.
In addition to blasting the Legislature’s budget in front of the Snohomish County Council, Eyman is urging his followers and anyone who will listen to him to participate in his push polls (the “advisory votes”) by voting “Repealed” to signify their displeasure with the budget.
“Tell next year’s Legislature that you’re against them raising taxes by voting ‘REJECT’ on Tax Advisory Votes 16, 17, and 18 on the November statewide ballot,” Eyman wrote in an October 27th email, forgetting that his Initiative 960 actually dictates that the wording of the two choices in the push polls be “REPEALED” and “MAINTAINED” — as opposed to the more neutral and widely used dichotomy of APPROVED/REJECTED.
Unlike Tim Eyman, state lawmakers and local leaders like Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers have a responsibility to govern. Most of them understand a truth Eyman consistently refuses to acknowledge: Our state and its many vibrant communities could not function or even exist without taxes.
Taxes pay for police and fire departments, emergency medical response, schools, colleges, and universities, parks, pools, hospitals, roads, bridges, mass transit, water and sewer infrastructure, ports, courts, and countless other public services.
As our state’s population grows and as new neighborhoods are developed, the cost of public services goes up. And because we have an upside down tax code, state revenue isn’t keeping pace with the economic growth we’re experiencing. That’s hurting the ability of local governments and state agencies to meet the needs of the people.
Executive Somers recognizes that a growing county like Snohomish can’t afford to ignore the people’s needs. It’s why he’s proposed a modest property tax increase as part of his budget. But what Snohomish County and every jurisdiction across Washington really need is for the Legislature to pass legislation implementing progressive tax reform.
Local governments only have the options that state government gives them. If we start taking serious, meaningful steps to fix our upside down tax code, everyone will benefit.
Everyone, that is, except Tim Eyman. Tim needs our tax code to stay broken so that there will always be an appetite for his initiative factory’s destructive anti-tax initiatives. If lawmakers begin taking steps to make our tax code more equitable and just, that might just put the kibosh on Eyman’s already flailing business.