The true cost of Wash. initiative I-1033

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.




Filed under: Columnists

Responses


Steve Zemke MajorityRulesBlog Sep 24, 2009 19:58 PM

Good post with some serious discussion of the issues involved. Here’s my take on 3 critical problems I see with Initiative 1033. But don’t take my word for it in the end. Read the initiative and try to understand how it works and how it would change the representative system of government we have now and replace it with budgetting by referendum.

INITIATIVE 1033 FREEZES STATE AND LOCAL SPENDING AT THE CURRENT LEVEL. It says that none of the cuts made in public services as a result of the current recession can be restored without a public vote. Over S1.5 billion just in education was cut from the state budget this year. Public votes to restore cuts like these take time, cost money and allow politics and special interest money to influence the outcome.

INITIATIVE 1033 IS A RADICAL SHIFT AWAY FROM REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT. It would take away the current power of our elected public representatives to make budget decisions and turns the process over to budgeting by referendum. It does this not just at the state level but also for all 39 Washington counties and all 281 cities in our state. It is a blatant attempt to undercut efficient and deliberative government by Tim Eyman whose goal is to shrink the powers of representative government.

INITIATIVE 1033 IS A COMPLEX WEALTH TRANSFER SCHEME. It would transfer sales tax dollars collected from everyone and use them to only pay property taxes for property owners. The problem is that not everyone owns property. This scheme increases the unfairness of our tax system. Renters will pay the same taxes as before under I-1033 but will both get no tax rebate and see no increased public services for their tax dollars.

I-1033 is special interest legislation designed to hamstring government from operating efficiently. It is a complex wealth transfer scheme that benefits rich property owners. And it is not needed. There is no fiscal crisis demanding radical change of this nature. It is a dream scheme by anti-government anti-tax fanatic Tim Eyman and deserves a resounding NO vote this November. We don’t need to make our current recession permanent.


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