Tim Eyman’s Failure Chart

People are often surprised to discover that Tim Eyman’s record includes almost no successes (despite his outlandish claims) but is instead filled with failures and defeats chalked up over the last decade.

The following chart accurately portrays his actual record. Only initiatives and referenda that Eyman sponsored/cosponsored and printed up petitions for are included. Not included are the zillions of initiatives Eyman has filed but never actually attempted to qualify for the ballot.

The criteria for determining whether an initiative was a success is as follows:

  1. Did the initiative pass and survive any legal challenges? Does it remain in effect?
  2. Did the initiative accomplish its main intent as stated by Eyman?

So, two very simple, straightforward requirements made up the litmus test. And based on that test, here is the chart showing Eyman’s record:

Measure Year Subject and Synopsis Outcome
Initiative 695 1999
  • Would have gutted the state motor vehicle excise tax and required voter approval for all tax increases
  • Passed by voters, but ultimately declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court after a legal challenge.
FAILURE
Initiative 722 2000
  • Would have cut state and local property taxes, which fund public services
  • Passed by voters, but ultimately declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court after a legal challenge
FAILURE
Initiative 745 2000
  • Would have required ninety percent of state transportation funding to be spent only on roads
  • Overwhelmingly defeated by voters
FAILURE
Initiative 747 2001
  • Placed a draconian limit on property taxes, hurting cities and counties’ ability to provide public services
  • Passed by voters, but ultimately declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court after a legal challenge
FAILURE
Initiative 776 2002
  • Gutted local motor vehicle excise taxes in four counties, attempted to destroy Sound Transit’s light rail system
  • Passed by voters, survived a legal challenge, but failed to eliminate funding for Sound Transit’s Central Link light rail line, which opened in 2009 to strong ridership
FAILURE
Initiative 267 2002
  • Tried to divert money out of the general fund for road building
  • Failed to qualify for the ballot
FAILURE
Initiative 807 2003
  • Would have undemocratically required two-thirds votes of the state House and Senate for all revenue increases
  • Failed to qualify for the ballot
FAILURE
Initiative 864 2004
  • Would have slashed property taxes by a whopping twenty five percent, destroying funding for public services
  • Failed to qualify for the ballot
FAILURE
Initiative 892 2004
  • Would have legalized electronic slot machines in every Washington State neighborhood
  • Overwhelmingly defeated by voters
FAILURE
Initiative 900 2005
  • Gave the state auditor extensive new powers, funding for performance audits
  • Approved by voters. No legal challenge has been filed to date.
SUCCESS
Referendum 65 2006
  • Would have repealed ESHB 2661, thereby legalizing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation
  • Failed to qualify for the ballot
FAILURE
Initiative 917 2006
  • Would have repealed some $3 billion in statewide transportation funding and assaulted local communities’ privilege of home rule
  • Failed to qualify for the ballot
FAILURE
Initiative 960 2007
  • Undemocratically required two-thirds votes of the state House and Senate for all revenue increases; also required forced public votes on revenue increases
  • Approved by voters. Suspended by the Legislature in 2010; superseded by I-1053 in 2010. Main provision was struck down by the Washington State Supreme Court as unconstitutional in February 2013.
FAILURE
Initiative 985 2008
  • Would have opened high occupancy vehicle lanes during rush hour, drained part of the state treasury to pay for more roads, and restricted use of tolls
  • Overwhelmingly defeated by voters
FAILURE
Initiative 1033 2009
  • Would have locked in painful budget cuts, trapping Washington in a permanent recession and redistributing siphoned tax dollars to wealthy property owners
  • Overwhelmingly defeated by voters
FAILURE
Initiative 1053 2010
  • Undemocratically required two-thirds votes of the state House and Senate for all revenue increases
  • Approved by voters. Directly challenged in LEV v. State in June 2011. Main provision (the two-thirds requirement) was struck down as unconstitutional by the Washington State Supreme Court in February 2013.
FAILURE
Initiative 1125 2011
  • Would have jeopardized vital transportation projects, including Sound Transit’s East Link light rail and the new SR 520 floating bridge, by placing unreasonable restrictions on tolling
  • Defeated by voters
FAILURE
Initiative 1185 2012
  • Undemocratically required two-thirds votes of the state House and Senate for all revenue increases
  • Approved by voters. Main provision (the two-thirds requirement) was struck down as unconstitutional by the Washington State Supreme Court in February 2013.
FAILURE
Initiative 517 2013
  • Would have made it easier and cheaper for Eyman and his associates to qualify initiatives to the ballot, giving special privileges to petitioners, and forcing cities to spend money putting invalid or unconstitutional local initiatives on the ballot.
  • Overwhelmingly defeated by voters
FAILURE
Initiative 1325 2014
  • A Ted Cruz-style scheme that would have wiped out $1 billion in funding for schools and other vital public services in the event the Legislature did not pass a constitutional amendment to undemocratically require a two-thirds vote to raise revenue by April 15th, 2015.
  • Failed to qualify for the ballot
FAILURE
Initiative 1366 2015
  • A nearly identical clone of Initiative 1325 (see above) that would have wiped out $8 billion in funding for schools and other vital public services in the event the Legislature did not pass a constitutional amendment to undemocratically require a two-thirds vote to raise revenue by April 15th, 2016.
  • Approved by voters, but declared unconstitutional in its entirety by the Washington State Supreme Court in May of 2016.
FAILURE
Initiative 1421 2016
  • Would have wiped out billions of dollars in funding for Sound Transit, WSDOT, and Amtrak Cascades by repealing vehicle fees. 
  • Confirmed by Eyman as abandoned on June 1st, 2016 (won’t qualify for the ballot)
FAILURE

Here’s a summary of the failed initiatives:

  • Six were rejected by voters
  • Seven were attempted (in other words, Eyman printed petitions and tried to collect signatures) but failed to qualify for the ballot
  • Four were partially voided by the courts
  • Four were voided in their entirety by the courts

Eyman’s only initiative (to date) which has not been partially or completely overturned is Initiative 900 (2005). The Legislature did reinstate I-695 and I-747 after they were thrown out in court, but that was their doing, not Eyman’s.

As a “citizen” lawmaker, Tim Eyman is 1 for 21 over the past ten years.

Given that Tim Eyman is a creature of the media, it’s no surprise that Tim Eyman’s actual record doesn’t match the public perception that his followers and other Washingtonians have of him. Reporters frequently call him an “initiative guru” or an “initiative king”, which only fuels this mistaken perception. Tim Eyman may have a gift for media manipulation, but he’s terrible at legislating.

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