Testimony in support of SB 5224 – concerning advisory votes
Eliminating Eyman’s push poll tax advisory votes from the ballot
Washington State House Committee on State Government & Tribal Relations
Steve Zemke – Tax Sanity March 11, 2019
The Washington State Ballot for the last ten years has been cluttered with nonbinding push poll questions on tax measures passed by the Legislature.
These so called “tax advisory” questions” were put there as part of Tim Eyman’s Initiative 960 as an attempt to increase public resentment to any “tax” measures despite their benefit to the larger public. The ballot title for each is basically written as an anti-tax push poll based on Eyman’s ballot title language in Initiative 960 that stipulated the polling question wording.
They carry no Legislative weight as they only record voters’ opinions. They are like a public opinion poll paid for by taxpayers. But Eyman tries to use them to build public opposition to funding public services by wording them such that voters will be inclined to respond negatively to any tax increase. Under Eyman’s definition of tax increases he also includes any efforts by the Legislature to repeal any tax exemptions or tax expenditures even if they are no longer needed or are no longer meeting the state priorities of government.
Deciphering Eyman’s ballot title language is very tricky and confusing to voters. They seem purposely written to try to get voters to vote to repeal any tax increase passed by the Legislature. And unlike initiatives, the write-up on these so-called tax advisory votes in the voter’s pamphlet contain no explanatory statement, no pro and con statements, and no fiscal impact statement.
In fact, the State Attorney General has no real ability to even try to fairly explain the issue in the ballot title since Eyman’s initiative 960 required that the ballot title be worded as he wrote it:
The legislature imposed, without a vote of the people, (identification of tax and description of increase), costing (most up-to-date ten-year cost projection, expressed in dollars and rounded to the nearest million) in its first ten years, for government spending. This tax increase should be:
Repealed . . .[ ]
Maintained . . .[ ]
Please end this waste of taxpayer dollars to promote Tim Eyman’s anti-tax propaganda and misuse of the public ballot to further his self-serving anti-tax initiative promotion business. Vote to move SB 5224 out of committee to Rules and to the House floor for passage by the full House. Push polls to promote a private business deserve no place on Washington State’s ballot.
Update Information SB 5224 was prime sponsored by Senator Patty Kudder and Senators Hunt, Takko, Keiser, Nguyen, Darneille, Das, Wellman, Saldana, McCoy, Hasegawa, and Pedersen. The bill has been heard in the House Committee on State Government & Tribal Relations. Please contact your Representatives and urge they vote for this bill by clicking on this link SB 5224 and then clicking on “comment on this bill.” Thanks.