The true cost of Wash. initiative I-1033
September 24, 2009
Filed under Columnists
No one enjoys paying taxes. Giving money away is hard, especially if you’re not certain about the cause. But as a Washington resident, do not be fooled by Tim Eyman’s latest anti-tax initiative, I-1033: it is a really, really, really bad idea.
Tim Eyman: Washington state’s crusading anti-tax activist: has gathered enough signatures to put I-1033 on the ballot that Washington voters will receive in mid-October. If passed, it would freeze future state spending at the spending in this year’s budget, with annual adjustments for inflation and population growth. Sounds pretty innocent, right? Wrong.
Here’s the catch: due to the recession, the current state budget is one of the smallest and worst we’ve had in years. This year’s budget cuts $1.5 billion from public schools and colleges, requires over 3,000 teachers and education employees be laid off, cuts basic health services to 40,000 Washington residents and cuts basic environmental protection programs.
As our economy recovers, I-1033 would ensure these setbacks are locked in. Any tax revenue collected beyond the previous year’s receipts would be given back as property tax cuts, the majority of which would go to the wealthy and large commercial property owners. Thus, it makes sense that Bellevue Square developer Kemper Freeman donated $25,000 to pay signature collectors and get I-1033 on the ballot; residents like Freeman would be big winners.
However, The Washington Office of Financial Management estimates that in five years, this would cut $5.9 from the state budget. In addition to education and health care, funding for police, firefighters, roads, libraries, parks et cetera, would be in jeopardy as well.
Eyman’s revenue limit strategy has been tried before and has proven disastrous. In 1992, Colorado experimented with a similar policy. As a result, funding for public services plunged and Colorado dropped to 49 in the nation in education funding. After just five catastrophic years, voters decided to largely overturn the measure.
In Washington state, we are currently battling the worst recession in a lifetime. We need more funding to retool our K-12 science and math curriculum: not the cuts and the larger class sizes I-1033 guarantees.
To compete in the global economy, Washington state needs more young people enrolling in universities and community colleges: not further layoffs, higher tuition and increased exclusivity.
As Baby Boomers retire, we need to plan ahead to ensure a healthy citizenry: not make further cuts to our already limited health services and vaccination programs.
For those active in progressive Washington state politics, Tim Eyman is a near-annual headache. Since 1998, Eyman has collected enough signatures to get sixteen initiatives on the ballot. Most have been to cut taxes, although he has also taken on affirmative and laws to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Taxes are a necessary evil. They’re not fun to pay, but they protect the American dream of equal opportunity in our nation, our state and our community. This fall, choose education for the young, financial security for the elderly and forward-thinking environmental policies over knee-jerk conservatism and simple anti-tax slogans. Vote “No” on I-1033.